How do those go together? Things that seem to cost more than they should? Things that involve cutting or removing? Things all adults have to do at some point?
Those are all true. I’m writing this though because they are all things I have gotten far too involved in and spent too much money on going as deep as the internet will let me.
That’s fine if you want to do that. But it isn’t required or even helpful for many of you. If you don’t want to read any further the main point is this: Try the simplest option first!
The Happy Giraffe Budget is by far the simplest and easiest budgeting option out there. You don’t need specialized highlighters in 30 different colors. You don’t need to spend hours every week and month reconciling and planning out each paycheck, category, and expense. You don’t need ledgers and pages and pages of printable sheets of all kinds to track every detail of your financial life. It is usually best to start with the simplest option.
If you have past puberty then you shave. For most people there are two really simple options: an electric shaver or a basic Gillette style cartridge one. I think I used an electric one first because it was quick and virtually impossible to cut myself. At some point I switched to a Gillette style mach 3 or something because it was a closer shave. Either way, both options are just made to get the job done. And they do.
THEN… recently I found this:
Double edged single blade shaving with a safety razor that looks like it was made in the early 1900’s. This wasn’t the only video or website I went to while looking into this amazing new world of shaving bliss. Tons of places and reviews promise you that this is the shaving experience you have been missing your whole life. The shave is closer. The experience is more satisfying and fulfilling. And in my case, I’m more of a real man if I get back to the roots of shaving how it was always meant to be done.
There is a rabbit hole for shaving, and it goes deep with a lot of life changing promises. I was all in. With this new revelation comes a whole new world of tools you absolutely need to buy. In the long run it makes financial sense, but there’s going to be some upfront cost. That upfront cost and the lack of training (which can be fixed with some quick YouTube tutorials) are the reason most of the people in the world are missing out on this fabulous experience.
But I’m smarter and more capable than to be fooled by what the mass market feeds to those unsuspecting sheeple. I can buy and learn the things that will elevate my life in a way I never knew it could be elevated before. I have to shave every other day anyway. Why not make it heavenly?
I bought the brush. (Not the authentic badger hair one. That’s an upgrade for another day.) I got the pre-shave, the shaving cream, and the after-shave cream, all from Italy. The best of the best is always imported. I researched and found a safety razor that will undoubtedly last 100 years or more. I got the blades that would work for my specific skin and hair type. I learned the techniques that have been hidden from the masses for decades. I watched other men shave on YouTube. (That seems weird now.)
I put it all together and guess what happened? It wasn’t that great. It wasn’t life changing. It took longer to do. My arm was exhausted at the end. It was still just…..shaving. It was still dragging a blade across my face and cutting hair off. It wasn’t any smoother than I had even gotten before. I didn’t walk out of the bathroom and have women fawning over my amazing shave. I wasn’t any more or less of a man. It was easily 4 times the work with none of the life changing benefits. And the worst part is that, from a financial standpoint, it is pretty even compared to what I was doing before.
I don’t doubt that some people love shaving the old school way. I don’t doubt that there could be some benefits in the long-term. I don’t doubt that some people enjoy the experience more. But for me, at this particular point in life, with my interests and concerns, this wasn’t worth it. Getting the job done was all I needed. And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with me. Putting more effort, time, and money into shaving differently just wasn’t the thing I needed at this moment to improve my life.
Mowing the lawn
I know not everyone will have to mow a lawn during their lifetime, but it’s a fairly common requirement for many homeowners. Most of us get by with whatever lawn mower was on sale or given to us and we just mow it when the grass seems long and we have the time. It gets the job done and we move on with life.
A few years ago we decided that we cared about how our lawn looked. So we could hire someone to fix it or I could learn to do it better. The biggest change to the world recently is that YouTube makes anyone feel like they COULD be an expert with just a few more videos. So I decided to do it all by myself, with YouTube as my coach. I’m warning you, there’s a rabbit hole for lawn care as well and it goes deep.
The sites and videos are full of the same life changing promises that I mentioned before. Your lawn can be lush and green, even while the neighbor’s lawns are brown and dying. There’s knowledge and experience out there that you just have to take a few minutes to learn. You can enjoy mowing your lawn in a way you never imagined if you just do things a little differently. You’ll be a better home owner, more respected in your neighborhood, and a better person once you learn how to take care of the grass on your small plot of the earth.
Oh and that all requires new tools. Which I bought. You have to do soil tests. Buy all the right chemicals. Time them all out correctly. Buy the right sprayers for those chemicals with the right nozzles to make them work. You have to measure your lawn. Know the specific grass types and weed types you want to fight. You have to learn about aerating, power raking, pre-emergents, and post-emergents, what all of the nutrients are in fertilizer, and when and how much of each you need, grass length, disease types, the list gets very long.
I did all of the work and guess what happened? I kind of liked it! It took a lot of work and my lawn got a little better. A year later we had some green grass in places where we only had weeds or bare spots before. I wouldn’t call it life changing. It is still a lot of work and I don’t enjoy every minute. But the results were nice. For this moment in my life, this was something where I am glad that I went beyond the basic “just get it done” attitude. It probably won’t be that way for the rest of my life, but for right now, it was a good choice for me.
I definitely don’t judge anyone with a lawn that is barely getting by. Knowing even better about the time and money it takes has made me more sympathetic. Most people are probably not in a situation or time of their life where it really matters enough to do it all. That’s completely fine.
How does this all relate to budgeting? For most people, doing the simple things that just get it done, are going to be plenty to make your life better. Going from no budget at all to the easiest and quickest option (The Happy Giraffe Budget in my opinion) is a huge benefit and more than enough for most people. You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole if it doesn’t make sense for you. The extra work and money is not usually worth the small increase in benefits you might get.
If you want to go deep down the YouTube rabbit hole for budgeting, you can. I love that some people are very involved in budgeting. I love that some people are excited about it. The time and money spent filling out spreadsheets, highlighting things, planning every detail, and reconciling everything in the past makes sense and adds value for them.
But don’t assume that means YOU need to go that far too. For most people, the simplest option is enough.