Light of a Clear Blue Morning, the spending plan

Here we are, a year into the impacts of pandemic, with so much tragic loss of life and livelihood, so many unprecedented new normals the mind boggles to list them – with springtime and vaccines shining hope on us. We are looking at another change, soon. A year into pandemic times we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines rolling out.

This means… wait for it… you might be doing stuff again, soon

That also means when and how much money you’re spending might change. Now what?!

Over the winter, my pod and I were looking for ways to keep our spirits up, and stumbled upon Jad Abumrad’s great Dolly Parton interview podcast on NPR – which led naturally to listening to a lot of her music.

We discovered that playing her song Light of a Clear Blue Morning – daily – was a big mood and spirit lifter. Why yes, it HAS been a long dark night. And yes, I HAVE felt like a captured eagle, born to flyy-iiaahhyyy.

When the pandemic put many of us into new work and life situations a year ago, I shared a “New Priorities Budget”. It uses comparison and creativity to help you make sense of changes, and be planful and intentional about how you’ll use money in the midst of change.

Challenge: can you change your spending plan on purpose, ahead of time, instead of getting surprised?

Can you give yourself/your family a OMG We’re Outside fund? How will you reset any “inside” spending you’ve been doing [like online ordering or delivery food, etc] so that your spending stays manageable, and you don’t end up overspending and in hella credit card debt or without money to put to savings goals that matter way more than another box of extra stuff coming your way?

It’s time to re-reprioritize your spending to make sure you have money for the life stuff to come!

Below, I share a few ways to get your spending habits to emerge in healthy and sustainable ways. Because wherever your eagle wings are going to take you, I want you to be so ready to fly.

When I teach folks intentional money planning, I come at it from a few angles: 

  • Holistic: what do I earn and spend – and how does that work and feel? 
  • Creative: what do I wish you earned or spent? How might you change?
  • Tactical: what’s one goal I want to put money towards, how much will I put, and into what account?
  • Simplifying: What are my four numbers – income, fixed costs, goal money, and spending money? 
  • Comparative: what was I spending then and what do I want to spend now, in comparison?

I use these various frameworks because figuring out how you’re going to use the money you have is never a one and done activity – you HAVE to come back to it over the course of your life, and sometimes over the course of a year. 

It’s a good idea to come back to your spending plan any time you think your spending or income will change, for example:

  • You have a new life situation or change, like moving, having a kid, or …coming out of a year+ of lockdowns and suddenly spending money in public again 🙂
  • You get a raise, a new ongoing client gig, or otherwise have more money coming in regularly
  • You get an unplanned for bonus, cash gift, stimulus check, or do a one-off gig that brings in money you want to ensure you use intentionally
  • You earn LESS money, due to losing work or intentionally downshifting your work
  • You start – or stop – sharing expenses with someone else

It’s important to understand how and why you’re building your plan — not just what the plan is. When you inevitably need to change it, you have an idea of where to start and what YOU want to tweak. 

Here’s an example from the New Priorities Budget template I shared – you can download it here.

The way I’m doing my re-prioritized spending plan is:

Reduce = I have a food budget that went up $100/mo over the last year (!!), which I’m edging down by $50/mo this month — if that’s manageable it’s what I’ll do next month too. If not, I’ll stop with a $50 reduction.

Refocus = I have an “entertainment and eating out budget” that got put towards take out and hella tipping, zoom events, and fabulous local fancy foods that I cooked with. I’m moving the grocery money over to this and just making hella sure I stay within that spending ($300/mo for me). Note! I stopped drinking 6 years ago so I don’t personally need a going out to bars/alcohol budget anymore – but if I did, I would want to think about how much of my entertainment $$ was for party time boozin’ and double check I had enough to also pay for any other socializing I hoped to do (events, food out).

Re-do = I used to have a massages budget line because I live life primarily at a laptop and my spine reflects that reality. In the last year I’ve only gotten two massages, so I’ve been putting that $ into savings. This means, when I can FINALLY PLEASE GOD get back to it, I have to remember to STOP putting that money into savings and instead give it to my practitioner 🙂

Your to-dos:

  • Understand if any of your spending has changed over the last year, by taking a look at your actual spending habits
  • Evaluate if you think you’ll want to spend differently if/when you’re able to re-engage
  • Decide how you want to change: move money from one spending category to another? Stop saving so much?

It’s SO pre-pandemic 2020 to be spendy without being intentional – new normal = new ways to be present.