Budgets are no fun to do, but they are very effective. When I first started dating my husband, his finances were a bit of a mess. He was separated from his wife and children and was having trouble keeping up with support. One weekend I sat him down and we accomplished two important things. First we laid out a budget and then we put together a good resume. Both the budget and the resume were eye opening. The resume helped to uncover marketable skills, while the budget highlighted the unexpected expenses of everyday life. We found that his car cost approximately $5000.00 a year to run. That included gas, routine maintenance and replacement value. It came as a shock but also concentrated my partner's mind on the need to save for a better car. Within a couple of months we were both working and setting money aside for the future.
Budgets are hard work and no one likes to set one up. But for growth in real wealth there is no substitute for a budget because it clarifies expenses and allows for focus on what really matters in terms of money. If you're currently spending $5 or $10 a day on lunch and breakfast at work, doing the math for how much that adds up to over the course of a year can be shocking and instructive. A budget helps concentrate the mind and see where the money is really going. I never wanted to throw money away on eating out. I always made it my business to bring my own food to work. First I did it as a matter of budgeting, but later I noticed that it was also a matter of health. Most of the quick, cheap food that was available was also loaded with salt and fat. I t was bad for my body and my wallet. I was able to forgo the quick and bad for you foods and at the end of the week afford a decent dinner out instead. I would go to Applebee's which is inexpensive and satisfying. My thing was to save money in order to get something better. Any budget must have a goal, a purpose to give it impetus. Save for a house, a good vacation, that big TV whatever. Always give the budget a little breathing room, a little mad money. For me the mad money is $20 a week for tag sales. Sometimes that money becomes an investment when I turn around and sell something on eBay and make money, which goes into the Florida Fund. Remember play money is important too. Saving money should not be an exercise in deprivation. It should a way for getting what really matters in life, whatever that may be.