pleasure. money. sex.

Pleasure-based budgeting is the way to go.

Yeah, I just said “pleasure” and “budget” in the same sentence.

We’re pleasure-driven creatures.  We do stuff because it feels good.  We want to live our lives so they feel good.  Usually we start with how much we make and portion it out, like a pie chart.

But what if we started by asking how big the pie needed to be?

Nonprofits call this ‘visionary budgeting’.

I’m taking a slightly different twist and calling it like I see it.

It’s about pleasure.

You know how it usually goes.  You get the New Finance Program that will Get You Organized.  You set it up.  You feed it all your information: bank accounts, credit cards, passwords.  It downloads everything.  Great!

And then QuickMintforWindowsTm says: you should make a budget!

And you get that sinking feeling.  Yuck.  Budget.

But try starting with this question: if money were really truly no object (if you knew you could have as much as you wanted), how much would you enjoy spending on each of your budget items?

Really enjoy.

Let’s start where there’s no social shame involved:

Charity: how much would you like to give away?  How much would feel like too much?  How much is too little?  What would rock your world and feel awesome?

Education: how much would you like to give to educators (people and schools)?  How much would you like to spend on learning things?

Self-care: how much would you like to give to the folks who help you take care of yourself?  Your hairdresser, your massage therapist, the people who run the retreats that help you get on track?  Your coaches, your personal trainer, your cleaning person?  How much for new running shoes? If you don’t have all those people in your life, which would feel good to have?  Where does it become unwieldy?   How much extra would you love to add to your grocery budget to support small local organic farmers who give you tasty and healthy foods?  Which retreats would you attend?  Think of your doctor, your dentist, your acupuncturist.  It’s not selfish.  It’s oil changes and 100,000 mile tuneups for your body and spirit.  How much would you enjoy spending on taking care of yourself?

Housing and utilities: how much would feel fabulous?  How much would feel awful?  What would you enjoy spending on the place where you (and maybe your loved ones) sleep and eat?  Phone and internet are ways of staying connected; heat is part of making your home safe and comforting and comfortable.  What value do you place on that?

As you go through this, consider again: enjoy.  Take pleasure in.  Not how much could you afford or how much you should spend.

Savings?  How much per month to feed your nest egg so it grows up into a nest chicken or nest eagle (or nest gyrfalcon, for that matter).

Entertainment?  Groceries? Clothing?

Skip around at will.  Have fun imagining writing all those lovely checks or setting up the automatic payments.  Imagine the joy of the people who get the money, when they get paid to do what they believe in and do well.

If you could spend anything—as much as you want—how much would you want to spend?

We vote with our dollars.  Companies and products and small businesses rise and fall on our spending decisions.  But we also reinforce our own values when we go shopping, and not just for stuff.

So if we think of our individual spending as a way of expressing our beliefs, then our budgets are an expression of our core values.  But asking “what are you supporting right now” misses the point.

The point is what is possible.

So how much would you love to spend?  And where would you love to spend it?

If that feels easy and awesome, great!  If it feels like a Good Idea But…

Ramit Sethi has a few programs to help you have more to spend, if that’s what you need.  Morgana Rae has a great program to help you work better with money in general (and fall in love).  Marie Forleo really really wants to make your business a success and has all kinds of good stuff to help that happen.

You can use this with anything that you usually think of as limited in supply.  Not enough time?  How much would you enjoy spending on each of your tasks?  Not enough sex?  Maybe not enough sex drive?  How much would you enjoy having, how, where, with whom?  What are the must-haves?  What are the yes-buts?  If you could have it any way at all, what would it be?  Would you rather be eating chocolate?  Or do you want to want it?

All this gets you clear on where you are and where you want to go.

Because when you have enough, using your resources (money, time, sex) is a pleasure.

And when you let pleasure drive you, you’re seriously, really, authentically motivated–as long as you know what would feel really really good.

What’s your pleasure?

PS: want pleasure-based business planning?  Check out Danielle Laporte’s The Spark Kit.  I’m only halfway through but totally completely in love.  (affiliate link; I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it).