A couple weeks ago I was feeling frustrated with our budget. We stick to it almost by default, and it sticks to us. Our budget is a champ. Because of it, we’re able to put away about 25% of our gross income each month, not counting the money we use investing in retirement. Our budget allowed us to get out of debt a year and a half after we graduated. It has provided a way for us to live within our means, work harder to find deals, and pay cash for cars. Our budget is quite the hero. But lately I haven’t been feeling the love for our budget. I want it to loosen up a bit, not be so stiff and calculating. Don’t get me wrong; I like that it lets us save. But sometimes I wish it would also let me spend more.
And I’ve come to realize that I often feel this resentment toward our (freaking, yet wonderful) budget after seeing others’ things. We live in a world in which we’re constantly bombarded with picture-perfect glimpses of others’ lives. The new clothes. New haircut. New furniture. European vacation. Swanky hotel room. Fancy restaurant. You name it, we see it every day on social media. And I don’t know about you, but at times my reaction is, “Ooooh! Cool! I want that, too!” But then I remember that I have a budget. And while I might be able to have one of those things, I can’t have all of those things. And some months, when we have unexpected expenses, there’s not room for any of that stuff. And I get frustrated. And I start to compare my real life to all the humble-brag pictures on my Instagram or Facebook, which are very selective and not true to reality.
I know it’s completely shallow and short-sighted to feel this way, but I’m just being honest, putting my flaws out there. And so in an impulse a little over a week ago, I decided to stay off social media for a week. For me this meant Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I was tired of thinking about other people and their stuff. And I wanted to see if it helped our budget’s standing in my eyes if I kept those eyes focused only on my own life. The first couple days Johnny would ask, “Did you see [this or that]?” And I’d have to remind him that, “Noooo. I’m not looking at that stuff this week.” Aside from that, the week went by quickly. Sure, my fingers would occasionally want to press a social media app on my phone out of habit, but I stayed disciplined.
And after a week, I found that I was more at peace with our budget. I hadn’t really wanted for anything the whole week. My focus was 100% on my little family. I had a few thoughts like, “Geez, these pants are super tight and kind of short on Baby Girl. I’m gonna have to get her some more clothes.” or “Seriously? My hair is a disaster.” and decided I needed a new haircut. But those items arose from a problem such as a fast-growing baby or not getting my hair cut since said baby’s arrival. They weren’t dictated by comparing my life to others’ lives.
So what did I learn? I learned to never get on social media again. Just kidding. Social media wasn’t the problem. It was my perspective. I learned that I need to be purposeful with my thinking. Rather than comparing, I need to just let people have their moment of humble bragging and enjoy my own life. Because I’ve got myself a dang good life. And a dang good budget. And sometimes, I like to contribute my own bit of “humble brags,” mostly in the form of our Baby Girl’s big cheeks. And while I probably won’t be going cold turkey anytime soon, I think I’ll probably get on social media a little less than I used to.
What peer pressures make you want to give your budget the boot? Does social media ever play a role in dictating your wants? Have any of you completely signed off any social media channels?