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Budgeting: The Money’s Not Your Problem

The first post in this series was about Baby Step 1. The second, Baby Step 2. Before I go into Baby Step 3, we need to get a few things out of the way. Let us start with Thin Mints.

Smooth. Delicious. Minty. These cookies mean a lot to me. They bring back childhood memories. My mother would buy several boxes. She would remove the sleeves, place them in the freezer and let them harden. Then I would stand at the foot of the fridge like a poor man on a Depression era bread line and ask for more.

Turns out your mouth gets bigger as you grow up. The cookies don’t, though. As mouth size increases, cookie size remains the same. It does terrible things to the Thin Mint supply and demand curves of my stomach. The law of diminishing returns gets thrown out the window.

They have never stopped being so incredibly delicious.

Let’s pretend there are 30 cookies to a sleeve. There are two sleeves in a box. That’s 60 cookies. Here’s where I start to make my point. Answer this carefully:

 

What is the difference between eating Thin Mints for a day, and eating Thin Mints for a month?

 

I wish I could stop the post at this point.  I want to put this question out there, and wait for responses before continuing. But I can’t, so here’s the answer.

A plan.

That’s it. For serious. The difference between eating Thin Mints for a day and eating Thin Mints for a month is a plan.

Dave Ramsey says that adults devise a plan and follow it. Children react. This is perfectly illustrated in my own life. The inner 5 year old is the one eating both sleeves in about an hour. The 30 year old man knows he could eat two a day and have Girl Scout Thin Mints for a month.

Money is the exact same way. My inner 5 year old wants moon pies and a new tent. The 30 year old is sick of being in debt. He’s living without moon pies and a new tent right now so that he can buy as many moon pies and tents as his heart desires later in life. And give tons of them away.

Another Dave Ramsey saying fits:

 

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

 

It is a plan. It is an operating document. You give every single dollar a name, then you live and die by those assignments.

Enter the Budget Committee and the Budget Committee Meetings.

Life happens. You can make all the assignments you want, but life will happen. You have to plan wisely with someone you can trust. If you’re married, it will be  your spouse. If you are not, pick someone that you can trust, maybe someone who is older and better with money than you are. Ask them if they will help you stick to a budget. You and that other person constitute the Budget Committee.

The BC reviews the budget – a brand new one every month – and expenses outside of the budget are only made after convening as a committee and moving the money around together. (My wife and I do this via text message a lot.) If the money can’t be moved, then the partners need to say the dreaded word.

No.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s not complicated. But it is hard. See, money is amoral. Money isn’t good or bad. It’s used for good or bad depending on who’s touching it.

I hope I’ve made my point.

When it comes to money, your money isn’t the problem. You are.

ROE INTENSE

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