Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Budget is A Work in Progress

I used to think that budgets were horrible. Budgeting meant that all your dollars were allocated to something, and once you wrote it down, it had to be adhered to to the letter.

I've been using something of a budget for the last nineteen years. I never liked them. I always listed the 'must be paid' items above the 'may not have to be paid in full' items. By the time I got to the bottom of the page, there was no money left for savings, or for fun for that matter. When I started using Gail's budgeting system, I had done it again. I budgeted so tightly, the spreadsheet squeaked. Then something minor would come along, blow the whole budget out of whack, and I would think, "I've failed at budgeting AGAIN".

Then one day, while watching TDDUP, a lightbulb went on inside my head. My perception of the budget was all wrong. The budget wasn't telling me that I didn't have enough money, or that I couldn't spend money on things I truly wanted. It was there to help me achieve my goals. As Gail says, " Because it’s never really about how much you make. It’s about what you do with the money."

I realised that the only way I was ever going to actually save money, was by opening a savings account and putting money in there. PAY YOURSELF FIRST. I've heard this a gajillion times, yet I never really 'got' it. It means you must set aside a portion of your income before you pay your bills and whatnot. Otherwise, there will always be a reason to spend that money. If it's not available in your chequing account, or cash in your wallet, it becomes harder to spend it.

Now when I budget, I allow for things to pop-up like they do. My budget is still not perfect (are they ever), and I've reworked ours at least a thousand times over the last two years. Now our budget is something that I can live with, and change in a heartbeat if necessary. Because ya know, life happens.

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