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Why Budget if We Aren’t Broke?

Mr. BFS and I have good business months and bad business months.  But overall, we are well off.  We’re not financially independent, but we’re far from living paycheck-to-paycheck.  So if we aren’t struggling, why spend time worrying about budgeting?

Why We Budget

In short, the budget keeps us on the track we decide to be on.  We have clear priorities, even if they change as life goes on, and we agree that the way we spend and save should reflect those priorities.  Plus, when those priorities change, having a clear history of where our money is going is priceless.  We know exactly what expenses are set in stone and which ones can go up to the chopping block in the name of our new goal.

Budgeting and Side Money for the Win

For example, we wanted to build back up the emergency fund super quickly since we zeroed it out for the dental stuff.  So we looked at the budget, and as usual, we were overspending on food and entertainment.  So for the last 2 months, we stuck to the $500 a month or less plan on all food.  We also avoided most entertainment expenses other than his Halloween costume for the masquerade ball.  Mr. BFS also signed up to ref as many school football games as possible this season instead of his usual 2 times a week.

Between the budget cut, the extra game checks, and a solid October with the business, we were able to rebuild the emergency fund way quicker than expected.  Woot!  It’s nice that a hobby job and budgeting can help us breathe easier overall.

Budgeting Keeps Us From Losing Our Minds

Even if we didn’t need to keep up with an actual budget to hit our goals, it also keeps our heads out of the clouds.  When we feel super broke, it’s easy to live cheaper since there is a constant feeling keeping us restrained.

Right out of college, we saved like crazy to achieve our main goal of buying a home as soon as possible.  Frugality and even outright cheapness was our order of the day.  Then we bought our first home and got a little relaxed.  BOOM.  One of our cars needed replacing, so we tightened our belts again.  Then the crisis passed, and we started spending a little more.  Heck, I started making more, and we spent even more.  BOOM.  We wanted our dream house, and the strict budgeting was back.  We moved in, built up some cash padding, paid off the first home, and got a little more spendy again.  BOOM.  $11,000 of dental work smacked us in the face.  The cycle continues.

Now that the most recent issues have been handled, we realize that we don’t want to get relaxed immediately like before.  We have 2 board gaming conventions, Christmas, and a 7 day cruise to handle within the next 2 months.  We aren’t breathing easy yet.  But come February 2014, we might start relaxing again.  It’s okay.  Because we budget and save for our future, it’s all good and we know it.  The budget means we know where our money is going, what we can use elsewhere, and helps us save overall for the emergencies of life.

That is why I budget.  Even the non-broke need a way to keep themselves on track.  Budgeting is my tool of choice.  What’s yours?

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7 comments to Why Budget if We Aren’t Broke?

  • MikeS

    I budget as well. Mainly because I know that if I don’t keep an eye on my spending, money will flow to areas that are not my highest priority. The money leakage will occur and over time I won’t be able to do the things I want to do. I know this will happen because it happened in the past. I am financially where I am at now because I make a conscious decision on where to spend my money. Without that, I know I will be right back in the same hole I was before.

  • I think keeping track of everything is very important no matter how well off you are. If you are getting out of consumer debt, it’s vital. Now that we are doing pretty well, I don’t freak out if we decided to go out to eat or buy new gloves for our daughter without planning months in advance. But I don’t want to throw all caution to the wind because that’s how we got into debt before. I actually enjoy my spreadsheets. I’ve turned into a total geek, but it’s great.

  • Dee

    I can’t imagine not budgeting when you work for yourself. I would have a hard time continuing to work if I didn’t see where the money needed to go… I find ya’lls work ethic so impressive.

  • @MikeS, I haven’t ever really taken a budgeting break, but I think we’d be exactly the same.

    @Kim, Go Geeks!!!

    @Dee, LOL. Work ethic…you’re funny. But yes, we are motivated to actually work because there is no money otherwise…

  • I was wondering if you have some very long term objectives (other than being financially independant) and how do you link that to your budget ?
    We have some very long term objectives but it’s very hard to link them to a daily budget when they seems so unrelated… So we mostly follow our budget in a pavlovian way more than because of our goal

  • @julien, I include our long-term goals in our monthly budget by listing it as a large line item. For example, our new-to-us car fund is listed in our monthly budget as “New Car” – $500. Then I have to make sure to move that $500 to the CapitalOne360 account for our new car every month. I will be doing the same for other goals too.

  • JC

    I use Mint.com and app for all my budgeting needs and financial snapshots…as a result I don’t need blogs like these. Mint is run by Intuit which is a Fortune 500 company.