Money Talks, So Should You

Budget Whisperer: Highs and lows of budget living

Susan Russell
by Susan Russell, Dimespring 30

I won't lie to you  budgets aren’t all fun and games. If they were, they would be a lot more successful for a lot more people. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything, but that doesn’t mean you should go about your days spending money all willy-nilly.

Let’s take a look at both sides of the penny and you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons.

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High: Knowing when to reel in your spending. With plastic taking the place of cold, hard cash it’s easy to pass over the card without so much as glancing at the price tag. Inputting these costs helps keep your spending habits reigned in.

Low: Dealing with surprise expenses. Budgets should be living documents, changing as your income and expenditures change, but you can’t always prepare for these changes before they occur. Medical bills, auto mishaps, and children’s ever-changing hobbies can wreak havoc on a budget you try so diligently to maintain.

High: Rewarding yourself for under-spending. Keep track of the money you could have spent but didn’t, and use it for something special or add it to your savings plan. Nothing beats the feeling of reaching the end of the month and having extra cash to pad your account, and you can’t have that feeling if you don’t keep a budget.

Low: Problems with planning. What is typically spent and how much should be spent in a certain group can often be two entirely different numbers. Sure, you may want to go out to eat every night of the week, but should you? Cut it down to two or three outings and you’ll have money to spend elsewhere, but you’ll also have to learn to cook.

High: Saving for larger expenses. Create a line in your budget to set aside a few bucks each month for a later expense so you’ll have the money when you need it. These can be requirements (tires, large appliances, schooling) or fun things you just really, really want (new TV, vacation, furniture). You won’t have to feel bad about taking a chunk out of your account because you put that chunk there for that purpose alone.

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Low: Feeling confined. Sometimes you just want to splurge and buy yourself that expensive dress or those front-row tickets to your favorite show, but knowing there’s not room in the budget can make you feel selfish for that guilty pleasure.

High: Feeling accomplished! When the end of the month comes and I get to erase my budget to start anew, it’s a new beginning. Regardless of whether I am proud of the extra dollars and cents I was able to keep or I’m ready to forget the trivial expenses that put me over budget, I know that each month I get another chance to curtail unnecessary expenditures. It’s a good perspective to have.

Despite the bit of stress I get when I near the end of the month (or sometimes the middle of the month) and see that I have little left to spend, I find relief in knowing I have the power to control it. Bills and receipts add up, and with everything we’re forced to keep at the forefront of our minds these days, it’s hard to keep track of it all. Remove one of those things from your brain. Make a budget.

Susan Russell, aka the Budget Whisperer, is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.