Is it the economy or is it you ruining your budget?
An Affair with Money
From what I've gathered, most hubs here in Hubville deal with life/firsthand experiences.
This is mine.
I lost a good man due to my excessive spending and splurging. I don't regret I lost him, but he didn't deserve the things I put him through due to my lack of character in regards to finances.
Many times again, I saw him fighting with bank statements just to keep us afloat. It is a shame for me to relate that ours was not a minimal income. Took a highly irresponsible deal of spending to still be on the red by the end of the month.
This story is not unfamiliar in higher levels. High executives, Hollywood stars, family heirs, lotto winners... all have their own stories in regards of how to go from rich to poor in months flat.
In my case, I was spending close to $90 per day average in nonsense. From french manicures, to house decoration, clothing for the children, as a pass time... anything was a good and highly justifiable reason to go the mall to check if the family needed anything.
My former husband found it difficult to deal with this for every time he would bring out the subject, I would establish that I barely used this money for me, but for the household or the children. Women can certainly be hardheaded, and we do have our good strong egos on top of the sanctity of being good mothers.
In our obsession with being good mothers, we start an affair with money, and some (like me) lose their man as a result.
Falling in love with your budget
We need to look at our budgets as part of the family, take care of it like we take care of the house. In order to help out with this, although there are hundreds of great financial sites out there, without a doubt one of the very best is Budgets Are Sexy. It would take many hubs to cover all the subjects included in this site I suggest you give it a try, especially its templates. No pitch intended though, I am in no way related to the webmaster or am affiliated. It's a great site, written in simple language, detailed and helpful pages filled with easy to understand financial information. Plus, I love the name! :-)
Anyhow, after my marriage dissolved, I realized that as long as I was in this physical realm, money was going to be a part of my daily reality. I just had to deal with controlling my finances. Being a writer, I did what came naturally... I put it on paper.
Your Financial Plan: Put it on paper
I'm sure you've heard this one too many times now... get it on paper... Writing is the most effective way to climb out of debt... not your bank, not your broker, no negotiations...
I like Suze Orman's description of a budget. She relates a budget is like a living organism (that's how I understood it anyhow). It changes, it evolves, it grows with you. This is why we need to constantly review it. We need the habit of reviewing our budget periodically. I review mine at least monthly.
Taking a shower, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, putting gas in the car... all chores that we accept almost unconsciously... we barely think twice about them. We need to add reviewing the budget. The trick is to make this an easy task to blend it within our lifestyle. To simplify it in such a way that we will actually review it, without thinking twice about if we have time for it or not.
My Recipe for a Tasty Budget
Bottom line, this is what I do to keep my finances under control:
1) I have a book set out for this... A Financial Diary. I normally sit down at it once a month, writing down my plan for that particular month (if I want to do some car repair, or celebrate someone's birthday). I call it a book, but it is really a fancy notebook. I suggest you don't get just any notebook, there's something about it that sends my subconscious the message that this is something not to be taken lightly.
2) If something else comes up during that month I try to put it off for next month, unless is an emergency.
3) I have a savings plan for yearly expenses, like car registration renewal, back to school and Christmas expenses.
4) Beware of the little splurges. Those small take-out orders, eat outs, movie nights and the like are all classic budget killers!
5) Involve everybody in this affair, especially your children. Having a place and a role within the household budget, gives them an invaluable sense of security and belonging in the family. For example, I will give my 10 and 8 year old one dollar here and there and advise them to save them for casual days. Of course casual days are sporadic so they learn the value of saving. When we go to the bookstore, I tell them beforehand what is their allotted budget for that visit, normally is like eight dollars. This way I force them to look at the price tags as well as the goodies, and they have fun hitting that budget target!
6) Be humble. Forget appearances, Get real. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. Learn to wait for the things you want. Learn to be grateful and appreciative of the things you do have. Remember there is always something you will not have. The moment you get that car or that cell phone, is old and dated. Learn to refrain.
Above all, make sure where do you want to be in regards to your budget. Serves no point to try to be elsewhere when you have no clue of precisely where that is :)...