GRATITUDE: The Ultimate Budgeting Tool

October is here, which inspired Anders and I to jump into something called the #Last90Days challenge.  The premise is to fight against the urge to throw your hands up on the final three months of the year with the promise that you’ll “do better” once the new year rolls in.  In committing to some simple (though not always easy) habits, the hope is that we’ll hit January 1st at the top of our game.

There are five things  (“Five to Thrive”) we’ve committed to doing everyday these next three months, one of them being to list ten things we are grateful for each day.

This practice has been a game changer.

At first, listing ten seemed a bit…annoying.  It’s like getting a ticket from a red light camera. You’re typically fined an amount that doesn’t completely break the bank, but is excessive enough to be a plain ol’ pain in the ass. (You know…so you’ll more careful next time.)

So really…ten?  You’re serious about that? How about…three?  Okay…five?  Nope. TEN.

But then someone doing this same challenge shared a quote that helps her bring a lot of intention to listing her gratitude:

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It’s a question that snapped me to attention, like a bitter wind in Winter that takes your breath away.

That question, mixed with having only ten spots to fill (yes only…see how quickly things shifted!) intensified this like crazy for me.  Before using this question to help me focus me for this task, I was adding some things to my list simply to fill the blank spots left on the page: my Reef sandals that are clouds on my feet; a favorite podcast that helps commute time pass quickly; my oversized Bethany Beach hoodie that feels like a hug.  Don’t get me wrong – I love these things! But only having ten coveted spots makes filling up said spots with “things” seem…foolish.

Suddenly…my list is full of people. Moments in nature.  Memories of loved ones and overwhelming appreciation for time spent with them.  A list of intangibles that can’t be bought, but rather cultivated. Created.  Home grown.

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Suddenly…I’m reaching out more to connect with people I swear I care about, but seem to only make an effort to connect with when it’s convenient.

Suddenly…I’m not feeling the urge to spend money on the things I’m usually inclined to buy.  I think to myself, “What would I swap on my list to make room for this?”  The smart-ass in me sometimes considers crossing out a brother.  The human in me sometimes wants to erase a dog (or two) due to the obnoxiously rude 4:00am wake up call.  (And by sometimes, you know I mean about .02 seconds.) But the bleeding heart in me never lets that follow though.

Could it be that gratitude is the ultimate budgeting tool?

Anders’ job has him primarily serving the elderly. As is expected, they often feel the need to impart some wisdom on the strapping young man before them.  The overarching theme is always the same: the thing they cherish most in their lives are their relationships.  “Spend time with the ones you love,”  they tell him. When you’re nearing the end of your life, it seems as though that’s all that counts.

I sure as hell believe it. Do you?

The lesson this daily gratitude is enforcing is to keep the important stuff – and I mean the real important stuff, not what your circle thinks is important, not what society is trying to tell you is important – at the front of your mind.

Live your life and spend your time (and money!) focusing on what truly matters.

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This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Cleo, who passed away four years ago today. 

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