Let Me Tell You a Story About Budgets

budgets

Do you like stories? Stick around!

Do you like budgets? No? Well, if you want to hear the story, you’re going to hear about budgets. It’s a two-for-one deal.

These stories will help skeptics to see in a very concrete way how a budget helps your finances…and your relationships. Look at these scenarios and ask yourself “Which is better?”

Scenario One: Adelle badly needs a new pair of boots for winter. She’s at the store creating a baby registry and sees the perfect pair of boots in a window display. They are $120, which Adelle doesn’t currently have, but she quickly opens up a store account only for the boots and tells herself she’ll pay off the $120 with next month’s paycheck. That night, when she shows off her new boots to Matthew, a big argument ensues. He says that with the new baby coming and money being tight, she can’t just buy anything she wants. Adelle says the boots were not a splurge, but something she HAD to have and that there’s a plan for paying the card off. Matthew is mad because she never consulted him about this so-called plan.

Scenario Two: Adelle badly needs a new pair of boots for the winter. She mentions this to Matthew in October. Knowing that good boots might cost $100 or more, the two of them look at their budget. Every month they put aside $50 cash for clothing. Last month, no one bought clothes, so there is already fifty dollars in the envelope. Matthew and Adelle decide that she’ll wait just 1 month and then go shopping for boots, when the envelope is up to $100. Adelle keeps her eyes on the sale flyers and in mid-November, when Dillard’s is running a shoe sale, she snags a beautiful pair of leather boots for $90. She can’t wait until Matthew gets home so she can share her find!

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Do you argue or fight about money within the family? Do you always consult your spouse about bigger/unplanned purchases? Wouldn’t it be nice to pay for something up front, rather than go into debt just so you can have it today?

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Let’s do another one.

Scenario One: The baby has come and Adelle gets the first medical bill in the mail. She sends off the first payment. Matthew comes home with a surprise. He’s bought a gas grill and is eager to do some cooking and free up time for the busy new mommy. Adelle panics and tells him that she just wrote a big check to the hospital and he needs to move money over from savings to cover it. Why is he blowing money on luxuries like a grill? Matthew is angry not only because she didn’t alert him before writing a big check, but because he wanted to do something nice for the baby and her. After an ugly fight, Matthew returns to the store in a rage to return the grill. Adelle goes back and forth between guilt over “spoiling” the surprise and resentment that Matthew attacked her for paying an important medical bill.

Scenario Two: The baby has come and Adelle gets the first medical bill in the mail. She shows it to Matthew that evening. They’ve been putting money aside for the entire 9 months, but they still don’t have the full amount yet. They make a first big payment with the money they’ve saved and then call the hospital to set up a payment plan for the remaining balance, which they can get down to zero in just a few more months. Matthew says he’d like to start helping out with the cooking to free up some time for Adelle. She loves the idea and after finding a nice used grill on Craigslist for $40, they take that amount in cash from their “Eat Out” envelope to pay for it.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK: Isn’t it nice when everyone can agree on what’s most important? Would you like to be able to give a gift without worrying about the money you just spent?

And now just one more.

Scenario One: Adelle and Matthew are starting a small business. They find a laptop and printer at Best Buy, but after going through the checkout line, there’s a problem. Adelle paid with a check and Matthew claims there should have been cash for the purchase. Adelle thought he had been putting extra into the chequing account for business start-up costs. Matthew says he told her months ago to stockpile cash for their new business. The money he thought was there all along does not exist! The plan Adelle thought that was in place does not exist either!

Scenario Two: Adelle and Matthew are starting a small business. They talked about this a few months ago and both agreed to put cash aside for start-up costs. It was written into their monthly budget. They will start out by getting essentials as the cash becomes available.

QUESTIONS TO ASK: When we write things down are they more likely to happen? Can a written budget help clear things up when questions arise?

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To sum up:

  • A budget is simply a plan
  • A budget can be flexible
  • A budget has to be in writing
  • A budget is a stress-buster
  • A budget can bring you closer to the ones you love
  • A budget helps you work as a team
  • A budget makes you a more disciplined person
  • A budget makes debt go away faster

You might think this post is simplistic, but stories like this happen every day. There are fights, misunderstandings and hurt feelings that could all be avoided. Trust me……budgets are good for businesses and good for families.

Do you have any insights or personal experiences to share when it comes to budgeting?

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