Monday, October 24, 2011

Money Monday: Budgets

It's always the first step in any financial advice book or course.  But budgeting is often an exercise in futility... and depression... for me.  If I consider our usual income, and factor in 'reasonable' monthly amounts for things that don't happen on a monthly basis, like maintenance, repairs, gifts, etc., etc... we never come to a zero-based budget.  On paper, we lived the impossible for much of the last 20 years.  

I've done it before, but in the last couple of weeks, I checked out the budget calculating tools offered by 2 famous financial gurus, Dave Ramsey, and Suze Orman.  

Dave  Ramsey's Gazelle Budget Lite is very basic, to the point of being too simple, so that the categories hold too many things.  (There is a more extensive software available, but this is the free, quickie version.) This may allow for some flexibility month-to-month, but difficult for precise tracking.   Being a Christian advisor, his starts with giving/tithing, and doesn't consider it 'fluff' spending.  With his percentages, we should spend $275 to $625 per month on food.  Hmm.  That would be great, but I'm not seeing that happen without vastly improving our garden output...which, of course, would cost money.  Anyway, his percentages are a good way to start.

Suze Orman's monthly budgeting tool is very much more detailed, down to including things I was surprised to see, like parking tickets and gambling expenses.  It started by asking how many people and pets lived in the household, so I was encouraged that it might address the 
needs of a larger household.  It didn't seem to make a difference in what followed.  It advised us to run out immediately to get a job that will provide us with $2000 more a month.  With a different viewpoint, she considers tithing as unnecessary spending.  She also believes in a sizable emergency fund,  recommended we develop a $45,000+ account for this purpose as soon as possible.  Hahahahahahahaha....

Thankfully, through the years, the Lord has stood behind his promises and admonition from Matthew 6: 26 - 34:

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 
 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need 
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
We occasionally get reimbursements from insurance payments, an extra contract day's pay in a paycheck, sick-day buy-back funds, an extra job or two pop up for Hubby, or some other un-budgeted blessing that brings the ends closer together for another month.

I struggle with our responsibilities in all of this.  I feel like we had a chance to build our home, and maybe we 'blew it' by not keeping it simpler.  The economy changed so much from when we started building for which we didn't plan.  Looking backward and beating myself up about it won't help.  I know, because I've definitely done it!

From things I write about here, I think you've seen that we do, and give up, a lot to keep expenses down.  We are far from the point of suffering, so could probably do more.  Right now, that more I can do is pray and look for the opening doors, while I also track our spending and see what we can knock down a bit while we wait on Him for the bigger plan.  
31LL2.gif Thanks to "31 Days of Lists and the Like" at His Frugal Servantday 4- Spending Tracker & budgets gave me just the form, and kick in the behind, I needed to start keeping track.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...