Shaped by Budget: Aligning Goals with Personal Finances

29 Apr

Do you have champagne taste on a beer budget?

I know I do!!!!!

Every day I realize that I struggle to align my lifestyle (home, car, food, entertainment, etc) with my life plan.

My goals lead to me being a professional artsy community activist, think Augusto Boal. There is really not a lot of money in this, therefore making it hard for me visualize how my goals and passions will pay for multiple degrees and keep up the material luxuries in which I have grown accustomed. I have tried to convince myself that, financially I would be stable if I dwelled in a different area of sweet home Chicago (I live in a high-rise on the North side), drove a less comfortable car (I do have leather seats and a sunroof), and had even more self-control on my dining and drinking tabs.

But all in all, I am not satisfied with the idea of having less material items to keep giving more (everything). My observation is that people living my purpose often take a vow of poverty or take on too many jobs to ensure personal sustainability. The latter can become unhealthy, and my costly living preferences actually allow me to gain more exposure to the world around me.

For example, living on the North side. I chose to live in an area that encourages me to walk or take the bus instead of driving everywhere; that is a green environment so that I can safely enjoy the outdoors and actively think about my carbon footprint; and to be more accessible to people and communities that participate in the arts. This was a strategic decision that I made in hopes of engulfing myself in a space that is a resource for my goals.

But in Chicago, my lifestyle is expensive. I am not sure how to mentally shift and accept that how I live may need to change based on my income activities. I am having this ongoing battle that forces me to ask myself: should I mainly focus on making money now and work on my social activist goals later?

For the most part, I have avoided thinking like this, but as you can see from my article Giving: Time or Money ( , the issue continues to rise. It does not help that gas prices are exploding, grocery costs make me heave, and funding for social activist causes is decreasing.

Despite conflicts between my finances and my goals, I have been able to remain focused on my passions because of an AMAZING support system. My friends and family continue to assist me both spiritually, financially, and emotionally. I cannot stress the importance of allowing yourself to need and accept assistance from others during a challenging time. As I am working to align my lifestyle with my income, my friends provide some of the simple luxuries a girl needs, such as a night out on the town, or gas money to my next performance.

I came across the article below by Jane Allen that provides some great strategies on how not to sacrifice your passions for survival. Although encouraging, I still believe that my outlook on my personal living preferences must change to fully appreciate the writers advice.


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2 responses to “Shaped by Budget: Aligning Goals with Personal Finances

  1. Ruben Berenguel

    May 2, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Hi Ashley, my first time here:

    I always try to think of this problems not like “I have to cut 20$ of my monthly out of home lunches” (in my case, 20€), but more like “I have to generate revenue to compensate 20 more$”. This simple shift of mentality can do wonders: instead of constraining your ideas, you are trying to expand on them, and for a good reason (if you enjoy eating out, of course).

    Obviously, you can’t live on a tight budget and enjoy luxuries, but you can expand a budget to allow for some.




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