Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Budget Immersion

This is less a blog post and more of a confession. I do not do budgets. Primarily it’s because I know the outgo is always less than the income. Once I’ve paid my bills there’s nothing to budget as there’s nothing left over. I’m trying to change this behaviour but it’s difficult. It will be harder still because I expect no visible reward.

I’m in the midst of a desperate situation which is forcing me to deal with my finances more intimately. My friend Glenn is very good at this and has sat down over his expenses and analyzed, graphed and budgeted his money. I’m working my way there slowly.

The first step is like all first steps---you’ve gotta wanna. Sometimes an inciting event will come which will force you to look closely at your income and expenses. I just finished my taxes and am now working through a loan modification. Breaking out all the categories of spending has been exceeding painful but good---like what I expect to feel next month when I have my wisdom teeth extracted.

There are a number of tools and sites out there to help with the process. I’ve started by purchasing Quicken. This program helps quantify and graph spending. It helps you categorize your money and track it. In a quick second you can view your spending and see things such as gasoline spending; a dollar amount and a percentage of household income; $1300.00=5%. It’s a start.

Confessing my budget weakness is uncomfortable. It feels a bit like when I was learning to swim. This teenage girl that lived next door kept throwing me into the pool and encouraging me to make it back over to the edge. I never got over the shock of immediate immersion but I grew to love to swim. I’m hoping my leap into budgeting begets the same result.

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