Sunday, January 6, 2008

Budget?!? I don't need no stinking budget!!

"It's too hard..."

"I get confused trying to figure out how to set it up..."

"It never works the way I planned it..."

"What happened to my money? It worked on paper!"

"Isn't that a car rental company?"

Ahhh...the wonderful world of budgets. Just say the word budget, and you think overspending governments...nerdy accountants with glasses, pocket protectors and adding machines...denying yourself the fun things in life.

I'm here to tell you different.

The first two (overspending governments and nerdy accountants) are a given. The third...denying yourself, doesn't have to be. Budgets are a template, a road map...think of a budget as your very own financial GPS system - it tells your money where to go.

I think the problem most people have with a budget, especially one they can stick with, is they are unreasonable about what they want it to do.

First off, know that it won't work the first month...or the second...probably not even the third or fourth. Actually, your budget is a living, breathing document, and needs to be adjusting and evolving each month. Your life doesn't stay the same, so your budget can't stay the same. Just make the decision to do a budget, and see how it goes for the month. After the first month, you'll see where you over budgeted some items, and didn't budget enough for others. Make some adjustments as needed, and see how it works the second month. Tweek it again, and again, and again, and again, and get the idea. For example, once you pay off a credit card, you'll have that monthly payment you budgeted for suddenly available (that is a GREAT feeling). The next month, you'll have that money free - you need to adjust your budget to tell that available money where to go, and what to do. It could be used to pay another debt of faster, or to save for vacation, or put into a retirement or investment account, or any of a multitude of things. As each month is a little different, you'll have to adjust accordingly...that is what makes your budget a living, breathing document.

In order to be the master of your money, you need to know where it is going and what it is doing. To do that, you need to tell it where to go (I don't suggest actually telling
it where to go, as people might find it odd seeing you talking to a couple of bills). Whether it's paying a utility bill, paying the mortgage or rent, going into savings or investments, renting a movie and going on a date, or paying off all those pizzas you put on the credit card back in college, you need to have a plan on how much money is going to it, and where it is going. If you fail to plan where your money is going, than plan on failing in most, if not all your financial matters.

"But what about denying myself? I NEED that organic tofu seaweed, facial cucumber seed, cleansing, wrinkle reducing cream I just saw on the late night infomercial!", you say. Well, just put it in your budget! This is one of the BIGGEST lessons we learned...budget money you can "throw away", "blow", "waste", "have fun with"...whatever you want to call it. You know you're gonna spend just may not know what you are going to spend it on yet. By putting it in your budget, you have a plan for it, so when you do spend it, there is no guilt with it, AND you haven't thrown your whole budget out of whack, by spending money you had allotted for something else.

In other words, if there is something you really, really, REALLY want, do not deny yourself, just include it as part of your budgeting strategy. It will keep you motivated, and keep you budgeting. And when you know where your money is going and what it is doing, you actually end up saving money in the long run, and SAVING MONEY is MAKING MONEY!!


Power Faith and Living with KRL said...

Thank you for your insight and sharing. Your blog is enlightening!

Steve said...

power faith and living with krl,

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm happy you found the posts to have some benefit. I hope I can continue to earn your readership.