My husband & I just before we got back on budget.
Long before I used a budget, I had many opinions about them:
They were only for people who had “extra” money.
They were only for people who really struggled financially.
They were for boring people who led rigid lives and preferred to dwell in the nitty-gritty.
They took too much time.
They cramped ‘your style.’
Now that I’ve personally experienced budgeting for over a decade, I can say that all the above are: TRUE– to some degree–and FALSE, to quite another.
My biggest surprise around budgeting is that it lends FREEDOM rather than takes it away; But not on the surface–which is where many of us evaluate our lives.
On the surface, budgeting does take time; it does dwell in the details; and it does put containers around your spending “style,” but what it gives in return–PEACE of MIND–is worth every ounce of your resistance.
I didn’t start budgeting until my income was crunched so tightly that I began to rack up a credit card bill just to buy groceries. That surrender to a budget, however painful, let me sleep at night. Later, when our finances expanded, that same budget grew with us, allowing us to prioritize that which was most important to us–namely continued peace of mind, family getaways, increased charity and new shoes.
When we were again faced with an income crunch in the form of unemployment, that same budget stood by our side, supporting us through 2+ years of sanity without accruing credit card debt.
In return for what the budget gives us, we give back to the budget in the form of a weekly financial meeting that keeps us “current” and “proactive” which helps avoid the stress of continual financial “surprises.”
The Holidays are a great time to “play” with the idea of using a budget. Focusing on this one aspect of spending is simple– and rewarding–and what better time of year to enjoy the true peace of mind that a budget can offer!
In the New Year, you can choose to expand the “practice” of budgeting to other areas of spending–and in the process nurture a friendship that will stick with you–in the black and in the red.