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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Budget as a Four-Letter Word

Few words can elicit such fear in someone or get them to drop their request faster than "That's IT...We are going on a Budget!"

Dictionary.Com defines Budget thusly...

1. An estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.
2. A plan of operations based on such an estimate.
3. An itemized allotment of funds, time, etc., for a given period.
4. The total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose: the construction budget.
5. A limited stock or supply of something: his budget of goodwill.
6. Obsolete. a small bag; pouch. –adjective (ed. Huh!)
7. Reasonably or cheaply priced: budget dresses. –verb (used with object)
8. To plan allotment of (funds, time, etc.).
9. To deal with (specific funds) in a budget. –verb (used without object)
10. To subsist on or live within a budget.

Nowhere do I see:
11. Scare the Heck out of someone in order to get them to put away credit card for a couple weeks and then go back to shopping when the other member of the union isn't as chapped.

Hate to break it to everyone, but when you were spending like a kid in a candy shop you were on a budget. In this case an allotment of funds, itemized every month from CitiBank. Nice of them huh?

What you weren't though was in control of your finances or spending. A budget is really like a GPS for where you want to go. What to retire early? Plan for it. Save now to enjoy later. What to buy a boat. Save for it! This bunch a month will get you there. Pay off your debts? Your regular obligations are "x" this month and you can then put "y" to the back debts and in "z" months it will be paid off.

A BUDGET is something you fight about, "You can't ever stick to anything! $1 for Peas! I said you could spend $.45 this month on Peas, failure!"

OK, I know I am going a bit far, but the point is a budget is an ally against the chains of debt, not part of what ails you, but what cures you. Not something you impose, but something you agree to together.

If you approach it in this manner I will guarantee your partner (or yourself) will be MUCH more receptive to the idea and it will actually work. It may not work perfect, but 80% of something is a lot more than 100% of nothing!

Now about that other 4-letter word diet...


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