Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The hated budget

I wrote it. Budget. Who wants to think about how much they spend? Wasn't it nicer when we could simply whip out a credit card and pretend that we had unlimited funds? Well, actually, no.

I'm the worrier in our household. I'm also the most Type A, which means I need to know where our funds are going and why. I know the Fed is now claiming the economy is on the mend, but it sure doesn't feel like it from right here. In fact, there's quite a bit that feels uncomfortable. A friend of ours is out of work - and just had his first child. Another friend's income is off 50% from last year. We've taken a few cuts ourselves. Which is why it's so much more important to budget.

I like to think of a budget not so much of what I cannot spend but as what I can. Clearly, mortgages, insurance and water bills must all be paid. But do I really want those new shoes or another cute rain coat for my daughter? Maybe not so much when I realize it'll mean I run short on groceries. Budgets are simply line items - like buckets of cash. Some items are fixed and others are flexible. The key is to never put too much in any one bucket. I'm not saying I do this well most of the time. I'm just saying it's nice to know that I can be in control of my finances if I want to be. And right now, I don't just want to. I need to.

So I'm dusting off my old budget and relearning how to be a more responsible spender. Maybe my kids will notice.

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