The annual budget speech is an opportunity for the government to evaluate the financial wellbeing of the nation and to outline how the nation’s purse will be used in the new year. The event is a time to step back, to take stock and to reflect on past shortcomings and future plans.
The budget speech is similar to what most of us do at the beginning of each year. With our New Year’s resolutions, we evaluate our year and consider how much of our time and effort we will allocate to improving or changing certain aspects of ourselves.
We do an audit of ourselves, measuring how far we’ve come from the previous year and how far we still have to go to reach our aspirations.
It is in this way we keep ourselves accountable to ourselves. We measure our successes, subtract our failures, multiply our joys and divide our sorrows.
This time last year I had just completed my undergraduate degree and undertaking a new challenge, my honours in journalism. I had come out of a relationship, lost a number of friends and was still recovering from the hangover of a hectic December.
As the year went on I had my trials and tribulations. I lost a dear friend, struggled academically, drowned my sorrows in alcohol and found myself on sprints of depression and anxiety.
I had my successes too. I made new friends, learned new skills and overcame so many of the obstacles that stood in my way..
One of the ways I kept myself level-headed during an intense period in my life was through regular reflection on my past, present and future.
I thought about which moments had brought me to where I am today and where I hoped to be in the near future. And I quickly realised, I had to do some budgeting.
One of the things I evaluated was my time: how it was spent and how I could use it to improve myself. In my opinion, time management is the sort of skill that can only reap rewards.
When considering how I could spend my time more productively, I realised just how much of it went to waste on sleeping, lazing around and procrastinating.
Sometimes it only makes sense to change so that’s exactly what I did. One of the things I worked on was learning to use my time for things that benefitted my wellbeing and studies, and prioritising those activities over less fruitful ones.
Managing my finances was equally important. Reflecting on how my money was spent last year, I thought about what I had to show for it and whether it had brought me closer to where I wanted to be in my life.
Truthfully, it was quite embarrassing to compare the amount of new clothes I had and how far I still was from reaching a sense of contentment.
That’s why in my budget for this year I’m hoping to manage my finances better by saving before I spend and not letting myself get pressured into spending more than I have to.
Lastly, mental health is one of those aspects in life we should always put under the microscope every so often. Varsity gets overwhelming at times and it’s too easy to slide into bouts of depression and loneliness.
One’s mental health is key to how the experience of varsity shapes you. Doing an audit of oneself is a healthy way to maintain stability and productivity, which is the goal at the end of the day.
There’s a reason the Budget Speech is public, declared in front of hundreds of straight-faced parliamentarians who scrutinise every single aspect of it. This is for accountability and transparency.
Like the government, we should be accountable for our decisions and transparent with our goals. We should surround ourselves with people who will scrutinise our successes and pick us up after our failures.