Develop a Budget You Can Live With

“Budgets suck!” my son yelled as he pounded his fist on the table.  “What good is having a budget if I don’t have any money to BUDGET???”

It is a bit of a conundrum – especially for him. He moved out recently and is living with his friend. His dad is asking him to take over a Parent-Plus loan from college while he’s drowning under the rest of his college debt and not yet working in his chosen field.

Seems like every time he turns around something else happens to add one more nail to this ever-growing box of trouble.

But he keeps moving forward, because the only other choice is to fail.

The great thing about budgets is that you learn exactly how much money you have, how much you don’t have and how you can spend that money.

The bad thing about budgets is that you learn exactly how much money you have, how much you don’t have and how you can spend that money.

One of those statements really resonated with you – and if you’re like most people, it’s the second statement.

It’s so much easier to live from paycheck to paycheck and hope for the best than to face the issue head on and know exactly how much you don’t have and wish you did.

BUT, when you look at it a different way, a budget is something that will help you figure out how much extra money you CAN spend each month while still paying your bills and putting away money for that vacation you want to take next summer with your friends.

I have two friends who are struggling now with their budgets. One is getting ready to leave her husband and the other’s husband just cut off spousal support by changing the agreement through the court. He used a family tragedy to prove she didn’t need the money any longer.

Both women need to make drastic changes to their living situations – changing homes, reducing expenses, and learning to live on less. These are challenging situations for both of them, but one that will go much smoother WITH a budget than without one.

Immediately after my divorce the economy crashed and I lost 75% of my business. It was a horrific time – and instead of facing things head on, I buried my head in the sand and began racking up credit card debt to pay groceries and repair my car.

There were no additional expenses, or excessive spending. I didn’t go shopping, buy new clothes, or go on vacation. We didn’t go out to eat or buy groceries at the highend grocery stores. And still, I was swimming in debt.

Had I looked at life realistically, I may have gotten another job and sold my house sooner. I may have had less debt today than I do.

But hindsight is 20/20. 

Learning from past mistakes is one great gift we’re given as humans. Learning from someone else’s mistake is an even greater gift. If there is one thing I hope other single women learn from my past is how to look head on at their situation and take ACTION.

There have been times when I’ve seen my present situation out of the corner of my eye and decided if I could put my head in the sand just a bit longer the whole thing would disappear – entirely, disappear.

I know I’m not the only one, but I hope that my story motivates you to address the financial issues in your life immediately, before they start addressing you. Credit card debt, a huge loss on my home, and losses in my business should have driven me to get a part time job while rebuilding and homeschooling my children. But it didn’t, and today I continue to make payments on money I spent to buy groceries for the children 3 years ago.

The question isn’t whether you can find a budget to live with – but rather how can you live WITHOUT a budget?

Because, truly, a budget is just a structured way of looking at you money.

Successful businesses do it.

Entrepreneurs do it.

Millionaires do it.

And YOU are all those things in the hours and weeks before they happen.

In other words, you are that successful entrepreneur or wealthy individual in the months before the success happens.

Because success doesn’t happen TO you –  you MAKE it happen.

YOU create your success with your hard work and RIGHT ACTION. 

So pull out a pen and paper, or open up a spreadsheet program and start writing down the money you’ve spent in the past three months – where you spent it and on what.

Then commit to creating a budget that allows you a few dollars each month to treat yourself, but also has the line items to pay your bills and put money away for retirement years that are coming much faster than you might think.

And, remember, before that retirement is college education for your children, a vacation once in a while, a new car and a new roof on your home.

In other words, the expenses of living life.

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