When we create a budget, it’s important to identify our non-negotiables.
What’s a non-negotiable?
A non-negotiable is something we aren’t willing to give up. Something we are willing to sacrifice other things for in order to make sure we keep in our non-negotiable in our life.
Over the last five years, I have seen that non-negotiables vary significantly between individuals. Non-negotiables have been things like organic groceries, fake eyelashes, dry-cleaning, Starbucks, the list is long!
One that struck a cord in a class I was teaching was hockey.
Hockey is a way of life for many families in my Canadian community. Generations of men have grown up playing hockey throughout their childhood. Family life is customized to fit around early mornings at the rink for practice and weekends out of town for tournaments.
During this particular class, we were working through a budgeting scenario trying to help an example family balance their budget and makes things work. The example family was a ‘hockey family’ and the associated costs were eating up a large portion of their income making it difficult to make ends meet and leaving them with a deficit every month.
As we were brainstorming ideas to help balance their budget, a gentleman from the UK simply stated: “Pull the kids out of hockey and the budget will balance.”
The response from the lady sitting next to him was: “And then what? The kids will spend all their free time wondering the streets, they will flunk out of school and be addicted to drugs.”
The gloves were off, the fight was on.
Clearly in her family, hockey is a non-negotiable. She had an entire list of suggestions on how to make the budget balance while keeping the hockey. For our UK gentleman, it was simple, no more hockey.
It’s ok. There are no rules on how we make our budget balance, it just has to balance. Tough budgeting decisions are usually made easy when we align our spending with our values. In some families, hockey is a way of life… for others it is just a hobby that is easily expendable.
Chose your non-negotiables and work from there. It’s our income and we don’t have to explain to anyone (other than our partner) why we make the choices we do. Just make sure the budget balances and carry on with life.