Today is the first day of my new financial life. My wife and I have been committed to Financial Peace University for about a month, including two weeks of classes. But today is the day the big B-word (our budget) goes into effect.
I’m excited, and nervous. It’s one thing to talk about budgets in theory (which it turns out I love to do!), but now I’m really putting my money where my mouth is.
We’ve never had a budget before, so it’s going to take some getting used to. Ours is not perfect. I know that. Dave Ramsey says—and our friends who have gone through FPU agree—that it takes about three months to work out most of the major kinks and get your budget running smoothly.
Just knowing we have this plan in place has me thinking differently. Pretty much my whole life, my first impulse after “Oooo, I want that” has been “Buy it.” Now, the impulse is still there, but it’s being overruled by “Is that in the budget?” Like an effective diet that puts food into perspective, thinking about how that DVD boxed set will look on my budget takes the shine off of it. That’s a good thing. I might buy that boxed set after all, just not impulsively. I’m going to wait until it’s in the budget and I can pay cash. That waiting period will help me limit the frivolous and emotional spending that kept me from building wealth in the first place.
Maybe you figure that budgets exist solely to deprive you, and now I’ve gone and confirmed it by comparing budgets to diets. Notice that I wrote “effective” diet earlier. A good diet helps you lose weight without you feeling as if you’re missing out. I don’t consider our budget to be financial belt-tightening. We’re in control here. Since we created the budget, we know it will work for us. And if it doesn’t work, we can change it. See how easy that is? By telling our money where it will go before the month even starts, we actually give ourselves freedom, confidence and security.
Well, that’s the theory.