chris o'brien budget Remember the story about the ant and the grasshopper?

The ant stored up all his food for winter while the grasshopper was out singing, dancing, buying clothes online.

Well, I’m the Ant.

And I like that title better than ‘cheap’ or ‘stingy.’

It’s like those Jeff Foxworthy ‘you know you’re a redneck’ jokes. You know you’re an Ant when:

You negotiate price at a lemonade stand.

Your change jar has a change jar.

You would rather pay $5.02 than $4.99 because $5.02 means 98 cents is dropping into the ol’ piggy bank.

Yep, that’s me.

As an Ant, my response to the financial wellness advice I would see out there used to be: ‘Ah, that’s not for me. I put money into my 401(k), I bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, I’ve already got this under control.’ I didn’t have a budget in place, but I didn’t need one, because I was always in saving mode, anyway.

But here’s the thing about being a hard-core Ant…you sometimes miss out on fun stuff you really don’t need to miss out on.

For example, a couple years back a friend of mine was buying tickets for a Chicago Bulls playoff game and he asked if I wanted to go. I pulled an Ant, of course. Turned it down. And the game was amazing. Ended up going into multiple overtimes, and Nate Robinson scored a gazillion points.

Looking back, I could have totally afforded the $45 ticket. And I would 100% have rather been at the game with my friends than saying, ‘Welp, at least I saved some money.’ But I was so in the automatic mode of pinching pennies, I didn’t even consider saying yes.

What I’ve realized lately is that a budget can actually help us Ant-types, too. If I’ve already set aside an amount per month for fun/entertainment, then when a game comes up, or a happy hour, or whatever else triggers the Ant reaction, I don’t have to wrestle with the question, “Should I save or should I go now?” My entertainment allowance has already been accounted for. I can just look at what I’ve decided in advance is okay to spend. So in a surprising way, a defined budget actually equals more freedom.

The Ant saves for the future. The Grasshopper lives in the moment. But with a budget in place we Ants can do a little bit of both. And go to more Bulls games.

Interested in learning about a financial wellness tool that can help both the Ants and Grasshoppers at your company set a budget (and plan for retirement and fight their debt)?

Set up a demo for the brand-new ALEX: Financial Wellness conversation now.

Or–if you just want a taste first–check out this 3-minute teaser video.

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