My budget looks pretty much like everyone else’s: a mortgage, utilities, car, and food. Of course I always put dollars aside for surprises. I write everything down, but it’s not etched in stone, and I’m not one of those really good budgeters that categorizes everything, like pets. So putting memories in my budget is definitely foreign to me.
BY FAR MY LARGEST EXPENSE, AND I SAY THAT MOST LOVINGLY, HAVE BEEN MY CHILDREN.
When my children were young, a huge part of my income went for things like clothes, shoes, extra-curricular activities and school incidentals like class trips and pizza on Fridays for them. For 15 years, things I needed or wanted were at the bottom of the list, if they were there at all. I would try and find something in my closet, or borrow from a friend for the occasional wedding or event. I would wait until I looked like a grey squirrel before I dyed my hair. I would eat out at a restaurant under duress from my husband. I never celebrated my birthdays and never let anyone fuss. I was too busy planning and spending on my family’s important moments like graduations, anniversaries and holidays.
When I turned 40, my parents and siblings surprised me by purchasing me a flight to the UK to visit my oldest sister. I was shocked! All I needed was spending money and a passport, but all I could think about was how that money could be better spent on other things. It was all booked so what could I do? My kids were teenagers. They could survive without me for two weeks. Besides, they had their father. I was sure he could keep on top of things and if not, when I got back, I could just burn the house down instead of clean it.
So off I went, anxious, worried and excited. This trip would be all about me. Where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I hadn’t thought of myself in so long, I wasn’t sure I knew how.
My other sister helped plan an itinerary with everything on my wish list, including a trip to Paris. We went to everywhere I’d seen in the movies: Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the top of the Eiffel Tower. Some days we just shopped or lounged outdoors at a restaurant. There is nothing like people watching on a sidewalk cafe in Paris, having a croissant and a glass of wine at ten in the morning.
Our trip included a visit to the Louvre Museum. The place is huge! It would take a week to see the rooms and rooms of art and sculptures. Luckily you get a free map when you enter, because they could easily charge big money when you need to find your way out. Of course the most famous pieces had the most traffic, and usually you had to wait your turn to get up close.
Now I’m not what you would call an artsy person. I like art, but I don’t LOVE art. By late afternoon, my dogs were barking, and I’d had about enough of Monet or Manet or whatever, but we still had one thing left on our list.
Why Memories Deserve To Be Part Of Your Budget
The room was stuffed with tourists, but I’d come this far. I was going to see it. Patiently, I waited my turn. Even from a distance, I could see it was the only thing in the room. It was behind bulletproof glass. Finally, there it was, two feet in front of me, smaller than I’d anticipated. I’ve seen it in print a million times, and yet, I don’t know what came over me. I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed.
Last year I turned 50, and I’ve decided I’m going back. This time I’m planning on a month. I’m so thankful my family opened my eyes so I could see I needed to put me first. I need to budget for memories, not things. As you get older, you realize possessions can’t make you happy. It’s about great memories with the people you love.
I will always cherish my 40th birthday; the day Mona Lisa’s smile made me cry.