Millennial Money: How Daydreaming can help you Budget

If you can dream it, you can achieve it” is a saying more often seen on an inspirational Instagram account than in a financial blog. While I am loath to agree with the sentiment of a mere bumper sticker, dreaming really can be an excellent tool for those struggling to get their financial futures in order.

I began to think about the value of dreams in achieving financial freedom a few months ago. From there I decided to do some research on the subject. What is it about having defined dreams that can help solidify steps needed to achieve goals? When, if ever, is dreaming going to hurt instead of help?

I came across this blog post from ‘The Lady in the Black’ site, which includes a variety of guest bloggers all chiming in with that they consider the true value of using our daydreams to achieve our financial goals.

It’s safe to say we all love a good daydream once in a while. It can be an excellent way to escape the day-to-day uncertainty in our lives. More importantly, however, daydreaming can be an opportunity to really discover what is most important to your future financial wellbeing, and can even help you plan a concrete goal for that future.

Crucial step to ultimate Financial Independence

Through ample consideration of this dilemma, I’ve come to appreciate at least one positive aspect of this ‘financial limbo’, which is that because I’m not making much money (I’m working part-time right now and doing a little paid blogging), I have had plenty of time to fantasize about what I would do with the money I eventually make. This may seem to some as if I’m jumping the gun, but bear with me, as I think this stage in my financial life will be crucial to developing financial independence in the future.

Allow me to explain. Had I not had this period of almost zero income coming in, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to stop and reflect on how I spend my money. As they say, you only really worry about money when you don’t have any. So with that in mind, I have attempted to make this worrying worthwhile, by creating a fantasy budget based on a theoretical future salary.

This summer I’ve had lots of time to daydream up my perfect life, and with that, I have become more familiar with what I find to be the most important expenses. I have accepted that a large chunk of my future salary will go toward rent, and another large chunk will go to travelling, as I will be living outside my home country and will need/ want to return home at least once a year!

From there, I used the ‘personal budget’ feature on my Numbers app (like Excel for Macs) to break down the amount I can spend on things like food and entertainment, while still setting  aside a nice chunk of cash each month for long-term savings.

The key to making our financial dreams into our financial realities, though, is to take what we learn from these daydreams and make concrete steps toward fulfilling them. That sounds easy enough, right? This is the hardest part in my opinion, so to make it easier, I not only daydream what I would do with the money in my budget and how I would divide the money up, but I daydream about what I actually need to do to earn that money.

Three questions to ask yourself

If your imagination doesn’t get as much use as mine does, fear not. I’ve come up with three questions for you to ask yourself when you have a few minutes to help get you in the financial daydream frame of mind

1.) Where do you see yourself in your ideal future? Are you on a beach somewhere warm, or in a cozy home with a beautiful garden? Are you taking your kids to soccer practice in the newest BMW or painting in your backyard studio?

2.) Who are you with in this ideal future? Are you brushing elbows with high-society types? Are you discussing the impact of Basquiat with your art-collector connections? Or are you around the campfire with your closest friends and family?

3.) Why is this your dream? Is it because there’s a fire burning deep inside that is pushing you toward it? Or is it because you’re pretty sure the house and the car and the 2.5 children are what you’re supposed to want?

Once you’ve got the honest answers to these questions secure, you’re ready to start taking steps to achieve these dreams—but that’s a post for another day.

P.S. Editor’s Note: Helen Chevreau and Jonathan Chevreau will be discussing this blog and the general topic of Millennial students temporarily returning to the parental home on a segment of CBC TV’s On the Money tonight (July 18th). For those who missed it, you can find the 6-minute segment here.

Helen Chevreau is a student teacher, blogger and global adventurer. She also happens to be the daughter of Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau. She has a B.A. in English and has been blogging for five years. She recently returned from a year in Scotland, where she pursued postgraduate studies in education. 

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