When I was growing up, managing my finances was simple. I was an average ten year old with a steady job (doing chores) which paid a steady income (allowance). And while I used my salary to purchase comic books, baseball cards, and even birthday presents for my relatives, I never ran into a single problem such as overspending or running a minus in my account. Now that I am older and running a house, I look back and say, “What happened? How did I go from such a responsible young boy to an adult on the verge of debt?”
At first my answer was that I have more serious expenses now. I am no longer buying luxuries exclusively; I am buying the basic needs of my household. I stomached this answer for a while, but when I think honestly about myself, I know that this is not true. I am not living like a pauper and there are people who make less than me that seem to manage it all much better and keep their heads above water.
After a lot of thinking I came to my second answer: I did not track my money carefully enough. When I was growing up, every penny could be accounted for, but now I was spending everywhere and I don’t know where my money is going. So I went about writing down every penny I spent for the next 2 months. And while this method certainly made me more conscientious of my spending habits, it did nothing to help me save. I had all of my financial information but no idea what to do with it. Moreover, living like a miser lent itself to binge spending, so I was spending either nothing or everything and could not find the right balance.
Then I finally got it. I understood the one thing that made me stay within my budget my entire childhood. The one thing that, if I could only rekindle, would help me budget my expenses today as well. When I was younger, I understood the idea of tradeoffs. I understood clearly when I bought something what I was giving up for it. If I were to get a soda, then I would not have enough money for a comic book. And if I were to get my sister a birthday present, then I could not get myself an extra pack of baseball cards.
Understanding tradeoffs is essential to budgeting and spending. Without knowing what you can and cannot cut back on, when you can and cannot spend extra money, it is impossible to get a handle on your expenses.
This blog is designed to share information relevant to modern day budgeting. In the weeks to come, I plan on discussing budgetary concerns that will show you how to get a handle on your expenses and your life. Some of the upcoming topics:
How to make a budget
How to determine your expenses
How to control you expenses
How and when you can afford luxuries without straining your budget
How to start saving without stressing your budget
and many more…