One of the big ideas in The Goodbudget Way is “Decide what’s enough”. To truly budget with a why, we need to know where we draw our lines so we can decide how much we hope to spend, save, and give… and be content. And in 2020, we’ve had plenty of reasons to rethink our definitions of enough. From our day-to-day routines to the core substance of our lives, we’ve had to prioritize and re-prioritize and redefine how much is enough. If I go to the grocery store less often, will that still be enough to get what I need? If I see my loved ones in different, more creative ways, will that be enough to sustain the bonds that hold us together? Many of us have been doing this in our budgets too.
When it comes to my family’s budget, one of the most significant things we’ve done is to redefine what ‘enough childcare’ looks like for us. Prior to the pandemic, school was an important part of our kids’ lives, a big part of what made our work schedules work, and a place for us to build relationships with fellow parents. In the spring, our son’s preschool closed down. At that moment, our usual childcare arrangement simply wasn’t an option, so we juggled working and watching our kids like many others have.
While we all certainly missed the simple joys and concrete help that came from school, we actually found a fair amount of joy in our everyone-at-home arrangement in the midst of the very real stresses. A large part of why this worked is that we had enough pre-pandemic flexibility in our budgets to be able to work part time, and we are privileged to be able to work from home now. So taking turns watching our kids (with some help from mandated quiet times and screens here and there…) was a big adjustment, but not an unreasonable stretch.
When our son’s preschool reopened later, we began to consider whether his attendance at school was part of how we defined ‘enough.’ Certainly, sending him to school would have given us some outside help with our work and childcare situation. In the end, for us, it came down to relationships. His closest friends at school and the two families we are most connected to were not planning to return to class. Instead, we formed a little play pod and take turns watching the kids so they still get to see each other and play together every week.
These playmates and friends have been an immense gift to our children and to us as parents during this tough year. Nurturing these relationships was part of our definition of ‘enough,’ and we redefined how that would take shape in our routine. In terms of our budget, we stopped paying preschool tuition and got some more breathing room there. But along the way, we also learned that our little one thrives on having some online classes while bigger people in the house are busy with online school and work meetings. So we’ve directed some of our budget that way as well.
When it comes to your budget, how are you redefining what’s enough?