Guest Post – Zero-Based Gratitude

by Beth Montgomery on July 30, 2010

Laura (aka Lolli) never pictured herself raising her family in the Washington DC metro area. In fact, there’s a lot about her life as a mother of five kids, working part time as a photographer, and maintaining a busy blog that are completely different than what she pictured for her life in her mid-30s. But now, as she spends her days on the computer, her afternoons running kids around to activities and helping with homework, and her nights planning for cub scouts and supporting her husband in their business, she realizes that she couldn’t picture her life any other way. With her camera strapped around her neck, the van keys in her hand, and five kids tagging along behind her, she’s ready for anything. You can find her at Better in Bulk, on twitter as @1momof5, and on Facebook.

A few weeks ago, I started to get my budget in shape with Beth and Clair’s Budget Boot Camp. I guess you could say that I’ve had budgeting on the brain. So it’s no wonder that I have been thinking about a conversation my husband and I had with a friend of ours. Our friend presented us with a lesson on budgeting and happiness, and he took a spin on both that I did not expect. So without further ado, here’s a budgeting lesson a la Better in Bulk:

From Wikipedia – Zero-Based Budgeting:

Zero-Based Budgeting is a technique of planning and decision-making which reverses the working process of traditional budgeting. In traditional incremental budgeting, departmental managers justify only increases over the previous year budget and what has been already spent is automatically sanctioned. No reference is made to the previous level of expenditure. By contrast, in zero-based budgeting, every department function is reviewed comprehensively and all expenditures must be approved, rather than only increases.[1] Zero-based budgeting requires the budget request be justified in complete detail by each division manager starting from the zero-base. The zero-base is indifferent to whether the total budget is increasing or decreasing.

The term “Zero-Based Budgeting” is sometimes used in personal finance to describe the practice of budgeting every dollar of income received, and then adjusting some part of the budget downward for every other part that needs to be adjusted upward. It is more technically correct to refer to this practice as “zero-sum budgeting”.

Zero based budgeting also refers to the identification of a task or tasks and then funding resources to complete the task independent of current resourcing.

After presenting this information on zero-based budgeting, my friend then presented to us the idea of zero-based gratitude.

Imagine that you were stripped of everything and you were starting over as a newborn, but with your grown-up wisdom. What blessings would stand out then? How often do we only look at the “big things” that we’re grateful for and over-look the basic blessings that are really those things that make our lives worthwhile?

Most people focus on incremental gratitude. We are grateful for the bigger house, the better job, the new friend. But when we lose our house or get a pay decrease or have a fight with a friend, we are upset. Instead of being grateful for the blessings that are still present in our lives, we focus on the things that are not–the things that are less than before.

But with zero-based gratitude, we can be grateful for everything we have each day. Each day starts fresh.

With zero-based gratitude, I can be grateful for my beautiful, healthy children, even though I feel bad that I can’t offer them a better life right now. I can be grateful for the good food I have to eat even though I used to have more of it. I can be grateful for a comfortable and safe home, even though we have long since out grown it. I can be grateful for all that I am blessed with today, regardless of what I had yesterday.

My involvement in the Fishful Thinking program has had a huge impact on my perspective during a rather difficult time in our family’s life. Fishful Thinking’s focus on optimism (among other values) has been key in my ability to keep a smile on my face and remember my blessings in the midst of trials.

The Silver Lining Game is ideal for helping kids and parents alike focus on the good things that come–even out of bad situations.
Another fantastic activity is creating a Treasure Box full of the good things that happen during the week. I challenge you to try one of these activities this week! If I can do it, you can do it.

Be grateful!

Beth’s Note: I love this idea.   I try so hard to not only remember, but also be grateful for all that I have.   Like many, I slip up way too often, taking for granted the things I shouldn’t.   Of course, that’s why I put the computer up this week.   So, I could concentrate on the people I’m most grateful for and spend time with them.

Read more great guest posts or find out how to be a guest blogger on In Good Cents!

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