Desire Mapper Pace Smith takes it even deeper. Below, she shares with us a practical tool for incorporating CDFs into budgeting. Yep, desire and money. Many thanks to Pace for sharing this powerful tool.
THE DESIRE BUDGET, BY PACE SMITH
Earlier this month, my wife Kyeli and I had a delightful, love-filled, spiritual, transformative adventure. We couldn’t wait to plan the next one… but when we looked at our budget, we realized that we couldn’t afford another adventure like that one.
Frustration. Anger. Scarcity. Denial. And then…
We asked ourselves the question, “Is our spending really aligned with what we want most out of life?”
And you know what that means…
Here’s the 7-step process we used to transform our budget into a budget that is aligned with what we want most out of life… and how our new budget is transforming our lives.
We call it The Desire Budget because it’s based on our Core Desired Feelings (CDFs).
Before we dive in, there are just three things you need first.
- A budget. The Desire Budget process transforms a budget into an awesome budget, but you first need a budget to start from. If you’ve already got one, pull it up. If not, here’s the process I used to create my budget.
- Your Core Desired Feelings. The Desire Budget process assumes that you already know your Core Desired Feelings, or at least have a working guess. If you don’t, you know what to do – get out your copy of The Desire Map and dive in.
- An open heart.
Ready? Let’s go!
Step 1: Put everything on the table.
Take all the things that you’re currently spending money on (i.e. all the categories in your existing budget) and pour them all out into a big heap. Put them all up for discussion.
This requires a hefty dose of openness and courage, so breathe, meditate, pray, dance; do whatever helps you feel open and courageous.
Next, take all the things you might want to spend money on in the future and pour them into the heap too. We call our wish list “the bag”, so we dumped the bag out onto the table (which, in our case, is a table in a spreadsheet, not a table in our living room). These can be big dreams or small dreams, practical or impractical. Here are some of ours:
This also requires openness because it’s easy to get attached to these. Breathe, meditate, pray, dance; do whatever helps you feel open and unattached.
Step 2: Label your budget categories with your Core Desired Feelings.
For each category, ask yourself, “How does spending money on this make me feel?” and label it with the appropriate core desired feelings. Since Kyeli and I share one budget, we mushed our CDFs together into one column. (That’s why it’s so frickin’ wide.)
You don’t need to do anything with your CDFs yet. You don’t need to sort anything – that’s step 6. For now, just notice how you feel about each category, and let that inspire you as you work through the following steps.
Step 3: Take some things off the table.
Now that you’ve got your CDFs on the table, you can label the no-brainer categories and set them aside. There are three types of no-brainers: KEEP, NOT YET, and DITCH. We’ll begin with KEEP.
Go through each category in your existing budget that you’re currently spending money on.
KEEP: Pick a color to mean KEEP THE SAME, and color the categories that you absolutely definitely want to KEEP spending the exact SAME amount of money on.
We picked red for our KEEP color. We chose to KEEP most utilities and reasonable business expenses. We chose to KEEP rent, and KEEP the prescriptions we need for us to stay healthy and sane. We chose to KEEP all the no-brainers.
We colored our phone bill KEEP FOR NOW, which is KEEP plus a reminder to reconsider it later – in this case, when our contract is up.
We didn’t choose to KEEP our adventure budget the same, because we wanted more.
Next, go through the same process, but with your wish list. Go through each category in your wish list, and set aside the ones that don’t feel urgent or important.
NOT YET: Pick a color for NOT YET, and color the categories that you want to set aside for now.
We picked orange for our NOT YET color.
We colored a lot of the things on our wish list NOT YET because they didn’t feel urgent, and because we knew that setting these aside would free up money for the things we were super hype about.
NOT YET is just another way of saying “KEEP spending zero dollars on it,” but we found it helpful to use two different colors for them.
DITCH: Pick a color for DITCH, and color the categories that you’re no longer interested in or are no longer relevant.
We picked black for our DITCH color. I had budgeted for one web service that I no longer needed. I marked it DITCH and made a note to cancel it.
That’s it for Step 3; all your KEEP, NOT YET, and DITCH colors are done! Those budget amounts are now fixed. Keep spending what you’re currently spending for KEEP, set aside the NOT YETs, and zero out the DITCH categories. Set all those categories aside so you can focus on what’s left.
Step 4: Split categories based on your Core Desired Feelings.
When you label your categories, you may notice that you feel the way you want to feel sometimes but not all the time.
Go through each white category (white = “hasn’t been colored yet”), look at the CDFs you have written down for that category, and ask yourself, “Does spending money on this always make me feel this way?”
If not, consider splitting it up into two categories, or renaming it to remind you to spend money that actually makes you feel the way you want to feel.
For example, “adventure” has tons of our CDFs next to it, but not all adventures make us feel all of these things. “Transformational” was the key CDF – if we have a transformational adventure, we both feel the ways we want to feel, but if we have a non-transformational adventure, we don’t. So we split this up into two categories:
Transformational adventures make us feel all of these things. Non-transformational adventures don’t. Not hype. So we marked non-transformational adventures as DITCH – not worth spending money on.
Here’s another example. “Going out with local friends” was on our list, and in the CDFs column we listed “love, delight, wholehearted, gratitude, transformative, sensitive, embodied.” But not all our outings make us feel that way. Of course friendships ebb and flow but in general we want to focus on the friendships that make us feel these ways. So we renamed the “going out with local friends” category like so:
Adding “who make us feel:” will remind us to be intentional when we spend money on going out with local friends.
Step 5: Come up with creative ways to feel the way you want to feel.
For each remaining category that’s labeled with CDFs, ask yourself, “Is there a way I can get this feeling without spending as much money?”
For example, we looked at this item:
and imagined less expensive ways that we could celebrate notable milestones or achievements. We came up with:
which means we’ll create a sacred celebration ritual which involves a sparkling grape juice toast. And we’ll still get to feel all the ways we want to feel!
Plus, spending less money on going-out-to-eat celebrations allows us to spend more money on spiritual development and transformational adventures.
Step 6: Color-code all your budget categories.
Now it’s time to color everything that’s left!
You can use whatever colors and whatever scale works for you; here’s what we used:
Our color codes were, from most exciting to least exciting:
- MORE PLEASE: light green. You want lots of this because it’s totally amazing.
- MORE INVESTMENT: dark green. Not super exciting, but it’s a good investment, and your future self will thank you because you’ll feel the way you want to feel in the future.
- LESS PLEASE: cornflower blue. You don’t want to feel less of these feelings, but you’d like to spend less money on this category so you’ll have more money for the MORE categories.
- WHATEVER: yellow. Keep the same because it’s not worth worrying about and not worth messing with. This is a dismissive flavor of KEEP for things that you could change if it were important… but it’s just not.
If a category makes you feel lots of your core desired feelings (like “transformational adventures” in our example), color it MORE PLEASE.
If a category makes you feel one or more of your core desired feelings intensely, that’s another reason to color it MORE PLEASE.
If a category won’t make you feel your CDFs right now, but it will make it possible you to feel them in the future, color it MORE INVESTMENT.
And if none of the above are true, color it LESS PLEASE.
Exception: You may also find some categories that are small expenses and not worth worrying about, or that would be more of a pain to spend less on than to leave as-is. Color those WHATEVER, and then set them aside just like KEEP and NOT YET.
Go through every white category until everything is colored one of these colors.
Our colors ended up looking like this:
I’ll run through one example of each color.
We colored “transformational adventures” MORE PLEASE, because they make us feel lots of our CDFs very intensely.
We colored “conventions that help my business” MORE INVESTMENT. They make me feel radiant, which is one of my CDFs, but the main benefit is because it helps my business.
We colored “office supplies” WHATEVER, because it’s a small amount of money, I need office supplies, and it wouldn’t be possible to save a lot of money on it.
And we colored “going out with local friends” LESS PLEASE, because in Step 4 we decided to only spend money on those friends who make us feel our CDFs. That’s fewer outings, so less money! Note that we’re not feeling less of the feelings, just spending less money.
Step 7: Put numbers to the colors.
Feelings and colors have taken us as far as they can; now it’s time for actual numbers.
Make a new column “Budgeted monthly expenses” in your table. For the KEEP, NOT YET, and WHATEVER categories, copy the numbers over from your previous budget. For the DITCH categories, enter zero. Total them all at the bottom.
Next, figure out your target monthly spending. Do you want to be spending more, less, or the same? Your wiggle room is the difference between what you’re currently spending and your target. That’s what you’ve got left to play with for the remaining categories.
We decided to keep our total expenses the same, since our income hadn’t changed a lot. We already had some additional wiggle room from categories we’d split or blacked out to zero (DITCH).
We went through the cornflower blue categories (LESS PLEASE) and budgeted for the smallest amount of money possible to make it possible to feel how we want to feel.
Then, all that was left to decide on was light green (MORE PLEASE) and dark green (MORE INVESTMENT). The spreadsheet told us how much money we had to play with, so all that was left was to divvy it up in the way that made us the happiest.
We tried one divvy, and it felt okay but not great, so we slept on it and tried again the next day.
We realized that even though spirituality and transformational adventures are equally important to us, spirituality is cheaper. Adventures are expensive because we want to travel, but a lot of the spiritual classes we want to take are donation-based or doable online. So we were able to spend only a little bit of money on spirituality and still get enough… which left plenty of money for transformational adventures. Huzzah!
We fist bumped, set up the Treasury System to reflect the new amounts, and started planning our next transformational adventure!
The Desire Budget process
- Step 1: Put everything on the table.
- Step 2: Label your budget categories with your Core Desired Feelings.
- Step 3: Take some things off the table.
- Step 4: Split categories based on your Core Desired Feelings.
- Step 5: Come up with creative ways to feel the way you want to feel.
- Step 6: Color-code all your budget categories.
- Step 7: Put numbers to the colors.
How the Desire Budget will rock your world
Every single day since we created our Desire Budget, I feel supported. I feel aligned. I feel like I’m living my values by living into my Core Desired Feelings.
Every single time I spend money on rent, instead of being annoyed, I remember how having this home is enabling me to feel the way I want to feel.
Every single time I spend money on something frivolous, instead of feeling guilty, I remind myself, “This is my delight budget,” and I feel delight instead.
And every single time I receive money, I feel wholehearted about it, because I know I’m going to use it in a way that feels right – I’m not going to squander it or lose track of it.
I hope The Desire Budget works the same magic for you!
Try out the process for yourself. I’d love to hear about any snags you run into – or how it helps you feel more of how you want to feel!
Pace Smith helps sensitive spiritual misfits follow their hearts to a wild crazy meaningful life. She’s a Pathfinding coach, a teacher, a speaker, a writer, a bi poly trans gamer geek, an open-source Reiki healer, and a tournament-level Dance Dance Revolution player. Click here to download Warm and Businesslike, her manifesto about bringing heart back into the world of business.
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