Ah, the dreaded b-word: budget. Doing your budget can seem a bit of a chore; however, as we discussed within the main part of the book, it's a critical part of a successful financial life as it can reveal problems, drive your investment and lifestyle choices, and give you the confidence to enjoy the money in your discretionary spending zone (fun money). A budget doesn't have to be a punitive or restrictive thing. After all, it's only a tool. We're just suggesting that you write down your income and expenses for a period of time so that you can become more aware of any problems or opportunities that exist.
Budgets can be useful in revealing lifestyle choices that can be changed. Perhaps reviewing your budget might reveal that if you stop smoking, you can save enough to afford to take your dream vacation, or that you could trade eating out and fast food for a shorter work week. You might surprise yourself and discover that you're really not spending enough, because you are being held back by lack of information and a fear of running out of money.
Being mindful is all about facing reality and finding ways to come to terms with and improve your life. Start your budget with this intention. List three things you would like to do, but aren't sure you can afford. For example:
An annual, worry-free vacation
A gym membership or a more expensive, healthier diet
Working fewer hours
An annual spa trip
A new car every four years
A bigger house
A revised savings level
Dinner with ...