Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep a budget? Why?

Do you know how often I hear from people how keeping a budget is just too hard, time consuming, tedious, etc?  I hear it over and over again and trust me, there's many things I'd also rather be doing than sitting here once a week or so, organizing my receipts and inputting them into my spreadsheet to remind me how expensive life is.  But I do it, and I have for as long as I can remember (I think even since I was teenager, at least to some extent).
You see, coming from a poor childhood was difficult (which just wouldn't have been the same without food stamps, broken down cars and thrift store clothes.  After all, it made me who I am today; determined, motivated and successful) and I remember like it was yesterday the day I decided to change things to do things differently from my parents.  I remember hearing my parents fight over money time and time again.  As we all know, half (or more) of marriages end in divorce these days, and one of the biggest causes is money.
Most people probably have that proverbial credit card they use for "emergencies" or they use their credit cards for those big expenses and things that are not regular occurrences like vacations, a better car, etc.  After all, this is America where we want it and we want it now, and if we can't afford it, we borrow.  I know creating a budget is a frustrating task and staying on budget is even harder, but it really is important to stick to it. Certainly careful budgeting will improve your overall financial situation, which we all know reduces stress, but one of the best benefits is how keeping a budget can help your marriage.  Getting rid of money arguments leads to less stress on your marriage and a better life overall.
For myself, I go nuts if I'm behind on our budget by more than a few weeks, which does happen occasionally.  I don't sleep well if I don't know where our money is going.  It's too easy to overspend on a $20 item here and a $10 item there and before you know it, you're living outside your means and it's adding up faster than you can pay it off.
Once you get past the tedious task of creating the budget, force yourself to have a plan and a system in place (as much as possible) that allows you to stick to it.  Set aside a certain time each week to catch up your receipts and inputs.  Do it on paper or online, whatever you are comfortable with... just do it.  Once you get it down, you'll be happy you did. You'll rest better, be more at peace, and have a better relationship with your spouse and family.

Do you know how all of your financial pieces of pie fit together?

For the next financial post I'll give you a few tips for staying on the budget you worked so hard to create **smile**

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