I was shopping in a huge party store a few months ago. Slowly striding down aisle after aisle of party goodness, I couldn't believe all that there was to choose from. My first time in this warehouse-like store and I was suddenly transported to my happy place.
Shopping for decorating supplies for my upcoming Piano Circle (my version of a Piano Party), I gazed upon display after display. Soon, my cart was filled with cute this and cute that. I was convinced that everything was necessary and needed in order to pull off the most awesome piano party ever.
About 45 minutes into this shopping melee, I suddenly remembered something very important. (cue impending doom music)
My budget. And, folks, let me tell you, nothing stops me in my tracks faster than my budget.
Like I was coming out of a misty fog, I suddenly recalled the dollar amount that I had budgeted for this piano party. Um, yeah, it was not even going to come close to covering all the doodads and whizbang items in my cart.
So I had a decision to make right then and there. Do I ignore what I had already decided was my expense account for this party, or do I get all the cool stuff?
Holding my head up high, I travelled the aisles again. This time, however, I was returning items back to their various nooks and crannies. By the time I was done, I had less than 1/8 of what was in my cart originally.
I bought the simple decorations. I went home. A week later I hosted the Piano Circle for kids in my home.
And, you want to know the funny thing? Not a single one of the kids attending the party asked me why the napkins were white instead of black with white polka dots. Not a single kid asked me why the cupcakes didn't have cute little piano toppers on them. Not a single kid asked me why there weren't black twirl streamer things hanging from the ceiling.
And, I didn't miss those things either. I was so occupied with my students, having fun, playing music games with them, that I didn't even care that the decorations were simple. I was more focused on my students and the purpose of being together.
And, you know what else I didn't miss? The money. I didn't have to miss it, because I still had it. I had stayed in my budget, so the money was still in my account.
Oh the beauty of my budget. I was so thankful for it at that moment.
What, for some people might feel like restriction, was a glorious boundary for me. It helped me be realistic and keep things simple. It helped me stay true to what really matters to me.
My budget, in this case, and all of the time, helped me take home the amount of money from piano lessons that I actually committed to. You see, I didn't have to cheat my family out of money we need because I was purchasing black and white themed piano gift bags that we certainly didn't need.
The budget I have for my piano lesson business is simple: 15% of what I earn is used for business expenses. Occasionally that has to shift ever so slightly, but that is what I aim for. And that keeps it pretty simple and clear for me.
If I know I have a Piano Circle this month, I need a new scale exercise book, and I'm all out of staff paper, then I know how much I can spend on each of those things because the grand total must meet my 15% mark. I don't have to stress about what to spend on what because I've already decided ahead of time, there are limited funds for these items.
That doesn't feel punitive for me, that feels freeing. I feel rewarded when I'm able to tithe (give to my church), save, set aside money for taxes, set aside money for expenses, and then transfer actual income to our personal checking account as my monthly earnings. Transferring money to OUR FAMILY feels FANTASTIC.
But, I can't do that if I don't follow my budget.
The same goes for you too, Piano Teacher Friend. Follow your budget. Even if it means you have to walk through the store again to put things back, its worth it.
Follow your budget. You'll be glad you did.