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?