Bringing Balance to our Budgets: Part I
Finances can be a huge source of stress-at home and at work. Thirteen years ago we had medical issues that set off a financial spiral--plummeting us from a cushy savings account into tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Life happens.
Before we move on, I want to make a few comments about how this relates to your work. From firsthand experience, I can tell you that when you don't know where your house payment is coming from, you can't give your employer your best. When you are financially secure at home, you are a better employee. Second, as you become more aware of your personal finances, you will also be more fiscally conscious at work. An appreciation for your personal finances will overflow into your work environment and you will be more careful with your employer's money. Third, many of these techniques can be enforced at the corporate level.
Whether your budgetary woes are of your own making or from circumstances outside your control, the same principles can be applied to bring you financial freedom. There are a lot of people out there with ideas...many of them are good. But, what I'm going to give you here is personal experience. Many of the techniques we used originated from other people; I wish I had a memory that could credit each one for his contribution. What I'm writing here is what worked for us, in hopes it will bring you some relief.
I had planned on this being one post, but my goal is to keep this blog to a 90 second-read. So, here's the 90 second summary version: Rethink the word budget-it will bring you freedom and give you back control. Be flexible. Make room in your budget for FUN! Keep your goals in mind. Destroy your credit cards. Pay cash for all purchases. Use the Envelope System. Consider separate accounts. If you start a new account, begin your checks with #301. Don't use techniques blindly; do what works for you.
But my other goal is to give you at least one immediate, practical application to take with you. So I'll take an extra 30 seconds to leave you with one tidbit to get started. It really is the cornerstone of all we'll talk about. And for some it will take a week for this to sink in! I know it took me awhile to come to terms with.
Budget is a Good Word
I had to change my mindset about the word budget. I always saw budget as all the things I couldn't do. But I've learned a budget gives me freedom. A budget gives back financial control. You get to set the boundaries. You decide where to spend your money. You are also deciding in advance where not to spend your money. This takes some of the stress out of decision making. If you decide at the beginning of the month you have $100 to spend on meals out, when the money is gone, you eat at home. If someone asks you out after your $100 allotment has been spent, you say, "I'm sorry we can't this month, but we'd love to plan dinner out with you next month. How does February 7th look for you?" You don't have to tell them you ran out of money; you can just say you are unavailable!
We'll take the next three weeks to cover the other summary points in depth. This is money we're talking about; details are a worthy investment of your time. I can't imagine any of the other "Bringing Balancing to our ‘ABCs'" topics will take more than one week, but if we are going to spend extra time somewhere, our wallets are a good place for that to happen!
If you have any techniques that have helped your family's finances, will you share them with us?