I have just returned from the land of midterm anxiety to write this blog. Even though I only had one midterm I still had difficulty studying with my crammed schedule. I took some tips from my last post on managing time, and yes, you should definitely read that too!
Two weeks ago I took on a new challenge. I created a budget for the year. This was a bit nerve wracking because it was my first budget ever (Grade 11 Planning does not count), and I wasn't on track to meet my financial needs for the season. I would relish the opportunity to be able to invest in the future, and run a 3-year deficit budget like the new Liberal government, but my hair Just Isn't Ready to handle that.
Once I knew I had a gap to fill it gave me motivation to find a permanent second job this winter, and I think I have found a good fit with lifeguarding. We will see!
Regardless of the downside of not balancing the books the first time I looked at a budget, it was nice to plan out how much money I will need this season, and when. I was able to factor in food, accommodation, and race entry costs as well, so there are no surprises.
Creating a budget is a bit like setting a huge goal; daunting to look at objectively, but it lays the foundation to reaching your desired outcome.
BHere's the breakdown of my projected and current expenses for this year:
Racing (Travel, Food, Accommodation,Entry Fees): $8930
Ski Camps: $1035
Skis: $2000(Generously paid for by my Brother, Aunt, and Uncle!)
Ski Equipment: $500
Team Fees: $900
Trail Pass: $150
School (Books and Tuition): $1900
Phone Replacement: $150
Total: $15 565
Amount Already Paid: $4485
Amount in Bank: $5500
Support From my Father: $1500 (but to be used in emergencies)
Gap: $4080 short!
It's too bad that for fifteen thousand dollars I can't even buy myself socks in this sport. But I had estimated this cost and prepared myself to meet it over the summer. In reflection I would love to be able to never travel and stay very fast, it would cut my year's expenses in half, but racing is the aspect of skiing that I love the most.
Unfortunately, a couple of bad things have arisen from creating this budget. First, I have let my $4000+ gap balloon in my mind to the point where I have even told people that I am $5000 short. I am still trying to relax from the amount of stress that this has needlessly put on me. I should have looked at the budget a few times over the course of a week and reassured myself that I would meet my targets. In fact, I designed my budget to be a high estimate so that I would meet my targets!
Then, because I let my fear of not meeting my needs get to me, I also started worrying that I wouldn't be able to balance this year like I had hoped. I contemplated quitting all my classes second semester and only working, which is not a terrible alternative, I could ski every day too! I had even contemplated what I would do if I burned out, fell out of love with skiing this year, and went into debt. That also wasn't a horrible outcome; I could join a team sport next year and enlist in the army if things really blew up in my face, or fight forest fires all next summer. Honestly, my doom-and-gloom mentality was just silly. It put a humongous amount amount of fear on my mind at once, and it led to some instances where I was very upset. To be fair, I made my budget at a crazy time in the fall for me, I was training long hours, preparing for my midterm, not getting enough sleep at night, participating in a 5-week life guarding course, and upset that I wasn't able to work at my second job. It should be no surprise that I had such a negative reaction to my budget, and I really would like to thank the people who supported me with "No, you are not going to screw this up", or "You can do it" and many more teenage words of wisdom. Thank you friends! And ironically, my process of considering all the ways I could fail this season really helped me let go of my fear and come up with solutions for finding balance.
Creating a budget turned out to be a great process for me. It was another step in this year's experiment. And while it made me face some tough questions, I feel like I will be able to deal with a lot of the challenges associated with money. I really wish I had asked a skier older than me how they paid for their year and how they budgeted before I went and created my own. I recommend to any reader yet to make their first budget not to sweat it if they come up a bit short. It's not worthwhile to worry if one is doing everything they can to cope.