I grew up in a small Mennonite farming community in southern Manitoba. There are lots of things I could tell you about my formative years, but for now I’ll just stick to two.
We worked hard.
We ate a lot of butter, salt and lard.
Now, I live a very different kind of life in Toronto, half of it on the stage, and half behind my desk helping people with their finances.
And generally I eat less butter and lard… not zero… but less.
I should have never opened the cookbook
But this week I took a little culinary trip down memory lane. I got into the Menno cookbooks. I made all kinds of old favourites culminating in a perogie fest to celebrate Canadian thanksgiving.
It was a very tasty week.
But come Monday morning I wasn’t feeling so great.
Turns out Mennonite food when you’re working 12 hours on a farm is one thing, Mennonite food when you’re hanging out in a rehearsal room is a different one.
It’s a classic lesson in inputs and outputs. When they don’t match, they probably won’t leave you feeling all that great.
Cue the financial metaphor…
There is no correct amount to spend on anything
Lots of people ask me about whether their spending is ‘normal’.
How much is the right amount to spend on food? What about housing?
There are plenty of folks that have come up with interesting ratios on all of that, but I think it’s all about the balance between inputs and outputs.
Personal finance folks like to call it ‘living within your means’ and that’s a phrase that lots of people say, but not as many actually think about.
The two sides of the coin have to match.
Just like the food I stuff in my face and the physical work that my body has to do.
Striking a balance
It’s all about balance isn’t it?
Perogie thanksgiving probably would have been fine, but since it came on the heels of ‘cake and butter’ week it kind of broke my digestive system.
Spending lots on travel might be fine… but if you’re also holding down a huge mortgage payment things could get dicey.
This is why I think we could all benefit from stepping away from the ‘comparison’ method of spending. It doesn’t matter what George from Regina spends on wrenches. Are you spending more money than is reliably coming in? Yes? Well… you should probably spend less on wrenches, no matter what new shiny piece George just brought home.
Your balance is yours. You have to strike it. And you have to adjust it when things change….like when you find yourself off the farm, living in Toronto surrounded by people instead of cows…
… for example.
Have a great week!
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org