Friday, May 12, 2017

Green & Green

Being from the South, springtime in New York always feels like it comes way too late.  By March, I'm expecting full on blooms.  Even though it always comes a little later than I want it to, it still somehow seems to come in perfect time.  March is the slow (painfully slow) thaw, April is for the blossoms, and in May - almost like clockwork - the buds blow away, the leaves fill in, and it's green, green, green everywhere you look.  At long, long, long last.

I always associate May and springtime with green for the obvious reasons, but lately I've had a different green on the brain - money.  As a freelancer married to an actor, money is always on the brain, and 99% of the time it's a source of stress.  I'm sure no one else on earth can relate!

We've used a system for a few years now to track our expenses called You Need a Budget (yes, you do) which has been amazing in keeping us on the same page and helping us communicate about our money or, often, lack thereof.  We didn't always use it as intended, though - we used it more as a tracking tool than as one to actually help us stick to the principles it lays out for eventually saving and aging your money so you break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

YNAB recently updated its whole system, which inspired us to make a fresh start and lay out a new, updated budget to better reflect our life as it is now, rather than a few years ago when we started.  We also recommitted to each other to stick to the budgeting principles and exercise more self discipline than in the past.  (Also, not being injured / not doing lots of showcase shows for little pay really helps in the money department too!)

So now here's where the yoga comes in - as part of the eight limbs of yoga, there are ten ethical guidelines (so to speak) that are things not to do (yamas) and things to do (niyamas).  Budgeting - and even just attempting to budget - employs all of them to some degree, but there are two I feel it touches on the most:  self-study (svadhyaya) and truth (satya).

You manage what you measure.  Tracking your spending requires complete and total transparency with not just yourself but another person.  It can be very easy to deceive yourself and live in a state of denial about spending habits, especially with handy dandy credit cards, which never feel like spending real money the way it does when you use cash.  By utilizing self awareness with every dollar earned and spent, you are automatically gaining more control over your financial habits.

Budgeting not just your own money for your own self, but with another person  makes it harder to keep up that habit, that we all have, of self-deception.  We're all very good at telling ourselves little lies or simply glossing over our bad financial habits, but when you have to track every little thing, and be accountable not just to yourself but with your partner, the truth can't help but come out.  It's not about assigning guilt, blame, or shame, but simply taking an honest look at your habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

What's difficult and sometimes painful in the short run, though, is ultimately what's best in the long run.  (Isn't it annoying how often that's the case in life?)

We seriously can't recommend this app enough, and recommend it all the time to friends and family.  Money is hard.  It's hard when you don't have enough, when you don't understand why you can't get ahead, when you're unsure of how you're managing it.  Yoga is all about awareness and connection - this lets you gain that clarity which leads to accountability.

And while it would be AWESOME if this were a paid advertisement, it's really not - just an entry I've been meaning to do for a long time in praise of one of my favorite things.  (YNAB, if you're listening, I'll totally be a paid shill for you...)

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