The 1 Financial Decision That Will Either Make or Break Your Dream

I want to become a Ninja. I quit my job in America, moved to Japan, and am now making it happen.

Sounds great… right?

Except there is a major flaw, a huge problem, something that has to be screaming at you in the face… “What about money?”

Should money be a dream crusher?

Excuse my bluntness but money is a big F’ing deal.

How would the following sound to you: I’m 30 years old, I quit my job, I have no money, I am going in massive debt to follow a dream, I want to be a ninja.

Sound inspirational?

I certainly hope not!

I think a more appropriate label would be INSANELY STUPID! Fortunately that is not the case at all…

Money and My Dream are not Separate Entities

The pursuit of my dream didn’t start the second I came to Japan. It began before that.

The second I saved that first dollar (for my dream), the pursuit had begun.

The second you start managing your finances in preparation for your dream… You have begun the pursuit of your dream. How do I deal with money when I want to follow my dream?

The Most Important Financial Step I Ever Made

There is one financial decision I made a few years ago that has completely changed my life. I can now enjoy the benefits of money without being stresssed by it. I purchase things I enjoy. I know exactly what I can afford to buy and what I can’t.

Most importantly, it has made it possible to pursue my dream. 

What did I do?

I created a budget.

WAIT A DARN SECOND HERE… This is a site about dreams and ninjas and passion and life and… WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT A BUDGET! I HATE BUDGETS! THEY ARE BORING, LAME, AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DREAMS!

Well, I’m sorry, but I can only speak the truth. I am simply sharing what has what allowed me to follow my dream. And one of the biggest things I did was create and follow a budget. You may not like it, but it is the truth

The Case that a Budget is Awesome

Some people think a budget is restrictive. I would argue the opposite, that  a budget is in fact liberating. Why?

Since I incorporate fun expenses such as eating out, purchasing clothes, and buying new electronics into my budget I am able to make these purchses without feeling guilty. I also am able to purchase these things while knowing exactly how much money I am saving each month.

Do you have any idea how awesome it feels to buy a Playstation 3 and save money towards a dream all in one month? It is better than sliced bread (like WAY better!)

y creating a budget I learned my exact monthly cost of living.

This allowed me to discover 2 very important things:

  1. How much I needed to save to pursue my dream.
  2. How much I could save each month towards my dream.

Budgets kicks some serious A$$!

A Final Warning About Budgets.

It normally takes at least 3 months to get a budget right. The first few months it may take a few hours to create it. Yes, you will likely make a bunch of mistakes, and it will seem confusing. But every month it gets way easier. Soon, you will be busting it out in 5 to 10 minutes.

To make it easier on you I am going to give you a budget template that uses everything I show below (don’t worry it’s free). This does all the math for you, so you can figure out your monthly budget in 3 to 4 minutes. You will have access to it a little bit later in the post.

/

How to do a budget

Step 1: Categorizing Expenditures

What you need: All your monthly bills (electricity bills, credit card bills, utility bills, cell phone bill, etc), a pencil, and your brain :)

After you have all of those things sit down and get ready to take some action that can put you on the first step to following your dream….

Write out the following 3 categories: Entertainment, Savings, and Expenses. Pretty much every expenditure you have can go into one of these three categories. Below is a list of exactly what I put in these categories (now remember I live in Japan so my expenses might be a little different – no gas, no car insurance, etc).

Entertainment Eating Out Clothes Miscellaneous/Electronics Travel Personal Development Donations Expenses Electricity Rent Internet Groceries CellPhone Water

Savings Retirement Investing Short Term Investing Regular Savings

Notice when you look at the categories they are fairly general. Rather than having expenses for “go out with friends” , “go to a restaurant” “visit the zoo” “go to a bar” I have one subcategory: Eating out. This just works easier with my brain.

Take Action-Go ahead and write down the 3 categories and list all your expenditures under the appropriate category.

Step 2: Creating the Budget 

After putting my budget on paper for one month I wanted to punch myself in the face. And I don’t know about you but I don’t think this is a good thing. So I created a spreadsheet to track everything.

This is an image of the budget software. You can get it free by signing up below.

As you can see above, it includes the 3 categories (Entertainment, Expenses, and Savings) as well as space for each of the expenditures. 

All you need to do is put your total salary for the month in the upper middle portion where it says salary details. Then fill in the amount for all your monthly expenditures and it will calculate the rest. The above is an example from last June.

Just sign up below and it’s yours free!

Action steps

  1. Sign up to get the Dreamers Budget. Once you confirm your email you will get a link to download it.
  2. Download the Dreamers Budget and put in your subcategories as well as each of your monthly expenses.

or

Create your own sheet (handwritten or excel) and write out all of your expenses next to each expenditure.

Step 3: One Simple Step That makes an Insane Difference

Some people create a budget, figure it all out and then when it comes to living it out they completely fail. They go way overbudget and consequentially void out the entire purpose of having a budget. There is one very simple thing I do, that makes it very difficult to go over budget.

First I created envelopes for each of my categories. I write on each of these envelopes a specific category. For example, I have an envelope for groceries, an envelope for electronics, an envelope for groceries, and so on.

Every month I pull out the exact amount of cash that I will spend that month – groceries, go out money, clothes, electronics, etc.

Money that will not be spent such as savings or automatic bill payments are left in my bank account.

I then look at my budget and place that exact dollar amount inside of each envelope. So if I wrote down that I would have $150 for ”going  out” that month then I place $150 in cash in the “going out” envelope.

When the envelope is empty… I can’t spend anymore. I love using this envelope system because I never have to think about it. If I have money in the envelope I am within budget. If I don’t have any more money in the envelope than I can’t afford it. Plain and simple.

Bringing it Back to The Dream

So when I began to dabble with the idea of moving to a foreign country and following my dream I created a new envelope. I labeled it “the dream”. Do you have any idea how good it felt too put money in that envelope? It felt awesome! I knew each month I was taking steps to turn my dream into a reality.

Money should not be “the reason you can’t achieve your dream”… Rather it should be the first step in turning your dream into a reality.

Is money part of your dream?