Budgeting For Financial Prosperity


Budgeting For Financial Prosperity

My wife and I once walked into our accountant’s office and as soon as he saw us he busted out laughing uncontrollably while saying, “You are broke!” We laughed too.

I remember when all we had in the pantry was a couple of cans of tuna that carried us for three days until one of us got paid. I also remember been evicted and not knowing where to go. I remember going to an ATM machine while I was working overseas just to realize that the IRS had wiped out everything from my bank accounts and I had no way to pay my workers or my expenses.

But even at the lowest ebb, I always had a budget that allowed me to know how well or bad off I was at any given time. I was able to laugh with my accountant because what he told me was no news to me. I already knew it. I also knew I wouldn’t stay broke for long.

First an X-Ray Then the Doctor

I have kept a monthly budget for at least thirty years. I’ve never being able to use programs like Quicken because I developed my own spreadsheets that gave me more flexibility in projecting and visualizing different scenarios. I have also helped many people develop their own budget, often discovering that the reason they were accumulating significant credit card debt was not due to impulse buying, but due to a serious income to expense deficit.

It is not unusual to do a budget for a single mother and discover that she is going several hundred dollars in the red every single month. She is forced to buy groceries on credit cards while credit is still available.

I have helped divorcees and people that had declared bankruptcy and people who had to sell their properties to develop budgets so that they could see where they were walking. It is amazing how many people walk blindly. Years ago, I found a co-worker crying outside the office on payday, because she had deposited her check that day and was already overdrawn.

A budget is a simple picture of how financially healthy or unhealthy you are. You wouldn’t want a doctor to do brain surgery on you just because he thought there was something wrong with your head without having done a CAT scan first.

Budget as Shock Absorber

A budget could be compared with a shock absorber in a car that allows you to ride more or less smoothly. You adjust your budget to handle the highs and lows.

I’ve had to make drastic decisions during hard times. One of those decisions was to stop paying my credit cards altogether when I lost a job. I had to make sure my family would have enough to eat.

Credit card debt doesn’t really go away and I knew that I could pay it later. In fact, I have even surprised business owners by paying debts that they had already taken off their books, but I had kept in my spreadsheets as things I still owed. It is incredible how well people treat you when you pay a long forgotten debt.

Budget for the Future

Credit is debt and once you begin to equate the two, you may be able to free yourself from the bondage of debt.

I prefer using debit cards to credit cards, but there are still situations where you have to use credit cards or get credit to buy a big item.
Booking flight, paying a hospital bill, buying a car, and buying a house are some of the main things that require us to use credit, but our financial health depends on how much control we have over the debt that the credit creates.

A budget is a picture, but the purpose of the budget is to serve as a tool to help us control our finances.



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