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Christian Living

Finance

Is Your Budget a Straightjacket or Your Best Friend?

Money couple

Somewhere along the line, budgets started getting a bad rap. For example, a family friend was recently horrified to learn that my wife and I practice a budget, “I hope,” she confided, in a low ominous tone, “that you don’t end up like Aunt Emma Jane. She never buys anything, not even enough food, and leaves her thermostat at 60° all winter long. I know she’s not THAT poor, but she says she can’t spend more because her budget won’t allow it. ”

The Straitjacket View of a Budget

In fairness to Aunt Emma Jane, her extreme frugality may have been necessary. If so, I tip my hat to her. But even then, why did the budget have to be the bad guy? Aunt Emma Jane, our family friend, and millions of others have swallowed the straitjacket view of the budget: a strict disciplinarian who loves to constrain your life while sucking all of the joy out of it. I prefer to honor the budget as my friend who helps me navigate the road of life with confidence while avoiding such potholes as debt, repossessions, and foreclosures.

How about you? As long as you view your budget as a straitjacket, your life will be one of two extremes: you will either ban it completely or allow it to smother you. Why not let him be what he is meant to be: your best friend?

What makes your budget your best friend?

He tells you the truth.

Numbers don’t lie and neither do budgets. When you tabulate your monthly income and monthly outgo (you can do this with a budgeting spreadsheet), you will learn exactly where you stand. Some of you will have heart palpitations when you learn just how much more you spend than bring in each month. Others will actually discover money you didn’t know you had: money which had been vaporizing because it didn’t have a name. Either way, now you know the truth and you know what challenges lay ahead of you. Aren’t you thankful for a friend who will tell you the truth, even if it hurts?

He helps you reach your goals.

Stop for just a moment and answer these two questions: 1) What are your short-term financial goals? 2) What are your long-term financial goals?

Now, take five minutes and put those goals in writing. Done? Good. My hunch is that those goals were something like:

  • Get out of debt.
  • Learn how to save.
  • Get in control of my money.
  • Plan for retirement.
  • Save for children’s college.

Let me assure you that you will never accomplish those goals without your friend, Mr. Budget, helping you. Isn’t that nice of him? Isn’t it wasteful to not use such a ready, willing and able friend?

He makes your marriage better.

Your money represents your value system. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what values a total stranger would see by examining your check register or your credit card statement. The point is this: when you and your spouse agree on a budget, you are also agreeing on your marital values. Your budget will flush out those differences, force some testy discussions and make you work toward unity. You might not appreciate your friend’s frankness but remember: he is doing this for your own good. Achieving a great marriage is tough work, but he will unwaveringly guide you through that process.

He gives you peace.

Your budget understands that his nemesis, serendipity spending, will give a short-term euphoria in exchange for long-term stress, frustration, and anger. But he also knows that when you control your money, you will feel a peace that is simply not present without him. You know where you stand, you know where you are headed and you enjoy the process. I think you ought to take time right now to tell your friend how much you appreciate having him in your life.

Although your budget has been too often maligned, he is nevertheless a friend who will tell you the truth, help you reach your goals, improve your marriage and give you peace. Like any good friend, he will not force himself on you, but will patiently wait for your beckoning. Take time to cultivate a friendship that will change your life forever.

Article originally published on SeedTime.com and is being used with permission. Copyright 2018.

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