It’s that time of year when everyone is focused on self-improvement. Resolutions revolve around recovering from the excesses of the holiday season by making healthier choices and better financial decisions. It’s time to get your budget back in gear, right?

Well, maybe. This might be a good time for you to take a tough-love approach to your finances and start following a strict budget.

But that’s not necessarily the right call for everyone. Instead, you might need to do the opposite — take a break from hardcore budgeting and saving every penny. Sometimes life is exhausting and the best thing you can do is give yourself a break.

What do you need right now?

Good financial management isn’t always about sticking to the budget, saving every spare cent, and denying yourself the opportunity to spend money on something you want. Sometimes, the right call is to do the opposite.

Money is a tool that you can use in many different ways. You can save for a downpayment, create a college fund for your children, and invest in your retirement. All of these are good things, and sometimes the best plan is to follow a budget and save for the future.

But sometimes life is challenging and overwhelming, and keeping up with that sort of budgeting is just too much. Trying to maintain that strict level of control can lead to budget burnout and feelings of resentment. It can threaten your mental health and lead you and your partner to lots of money arguments. 

Instead, think about your needs and how you can use your money to meet them. What do you need during this season of life? Are you feeling overwhelmed with your daily tasks and responsibilities? Does the thought of checking in with your budget every day fill you with dread? Then don’t! Instead, take some time to talk with your partner and figure out how you can use your money to meet your needs.

Investing in self-care

In times when life is too overwhelming for strict budgeting, one great place to spend is self-care. Think about things that would help you and your partner feel more cared for. Maybe that means you order takeout a few nights a week. Or you both take a vacation day from work to get a massage together or relax at home with Netflix. For many people, their happiest spending is putting money toward memorable experiences with their loved ones. 

Self-care isn’t always about comfort and luxuries, though. It’s also about investing in yourself in ways that can make your life better. That might mean spending time and money on therapy or scheduling an overdue checkup with your doctor. 

Spending money on time-saving services

When life’s extra busy or complicated, it’s good to spend some money on things that will lower your workload and give you more free time. Another source of “happy spending” for most people is purchasing services that will give them more time for the things they want to do. Sometimes that means calling in an expert rather than committing to a DIY project, something that’s especially beneficial in situations like home improvement or appliance repair. 

But you can also gain a lot of satisfaction by outsourcing things that you know how to do. Sure, you know how to clean your home, but you can enjoy more free time if you hire a housekeeper for a few months. Other options to consider are using a meal-kit service, having your car detailed, outsourcing lawn care, and having your groceries delivered.

Sometimes life demands spending, not saving

Sometimes, life circumstances don’t provide the mental or emotional space for strict budgeting. And that’s OK. There are times when the right call is saving every penny you can and sticking to your budget. But there are other times when the best thing for you, your partner, and your family is to take a more easy-going approach. 

Giving yourself and your partner grace during these times can help you avoid budget burnout and stress-fueled arguments about money. Talk with each other to figure out what you both need right now, and then spend your money accordingly. Check out our free resources for all the tools you need to have productive, stress-free financial conversations. When you’re ready to get back to budgeting, make it fun and easy with BudgetingBlocks™.