How to Make Space for Joy in Your Monthly Budget

How To Make Space For Joy in your Monthly Budget

I remember this one time, I was feeling ‘the urge to splurge’… 

“All I want is $1,000 dollars so I can just go shopping and spend it on whatever I want!” I said to my husband Marco, in a moment of frustration.

He looked at me and then gently asked: 

“What is it you really want, Paige? ‘Cause you can go out and get it right now…”

And I didn’t have an answer for him. 

Because I didn’t know what I wanted.

I just felt the need to go out and spend money – because I thought that would make me happy.

It was around that time that I started thinking deeply about what I really valued in life and journaling on the things that brought me joy. 

It turned out that shopping was NOT one of those things (I’ll come back to this in a minute).

Last week on Instagram, I asked people about their latest impulse-buys.

Here were some of the responses:

“A Peloton”


“Clothes. Always clothes!”


“Things for my house”

“A skateboard! It’s been in my trunk since”

“A higher end skin care product”`

“Unneeded extras at Target just to feel good”

“Expensive candles. About the 4th time they came up on my Instagram ads I just went for it.”

I get it – when the same ad keeps flashing up in your Instagram Stories, it can be hard not to buy! Especially if the thing looks pretty or fun. 

But if you’re creating a budget and you’re listing the things that bring you joy to include in it (so important!), you need to ask yourself:

“Do these things really bring me joy?”

Think about your last impulse purchases (write them down if you want)

💡 Mindset tip: Observe how you feel about these purchases and ask yourself:

Am I still feeling happy about this purchase? 

Does this purchase bring me joy?

Now close your eyes and picture moments of joy in your life

Think of that warm feeling of contentment that washes over you when you know you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world except right there in that moment. 

Which moments make you feel that way? 

What specifically about each moment brings you joy? 

For example, if it’s shopping with friends, is it the shopping or spending time with your friends that brings you joy?

Here are some of my moments:

  • My morning cup of coffee
  • Lighting a candle, putting on some music, and journaling
  • Having a really good conversation with Marco
  • Cuddling our dog Abby and taking her hiking in the hills nearby
  • Having friends over for dinner

All these moments leave me feeling truly happy, and most of them are free 🙂

Now compare YOUR moments of joy with your impulse buys.

You’ll probably find that your two lists don’t match up perfectly (or maybe at all).

And that your moments of true joy don’t actually cost a lot of money.

But when they do cost money, your values-based budget can help you plan for and enjoy these moments, while still paying down your debt and building up your savings! 

You see, for me, budgeting ISN’T just about paying off debts and saving money. 

It’s about identifying the things that truly make you feel happy and fulfilled in your life and your relationships…

…And then using money as a facilitator to help you have MORE of those moments, while you work towards reaching your financial goals.

Always have your list of joyful moments in front of you when creating your budget – and make space for them!

PS. My favorite budgeting website is EveryDollar – it is SO helpful for setting up your budget and easy to update! (You can also download the free app onto your iPhone)

PPS. If you feel like you need support setting up and managing your budget (& sticking to it), I’m opening up 6 spots for my 90-day 1:1 Financial Coaching program.

As a Certified Financial Coach, I’ll adapt my program to your individual needs. So you can start to pay down your debt and save money after your first coaching session – and still live a life filled with joy! 🤗

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