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| Spring/Summer 2011
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February and March were tax time for most of us. Whether you are now daydreaming about how to spend your refund or worrying about how to pay your balance due, here’s a simple tip that will virtually guarantee you a “raise” if you’re not already doing it (and most of us aren’t). It’s so unsophisticated that it’s almost embarrassing to write about, but our grandmothers would agree. For the next month (and every month thereafter) establish and live by a written budget.
Most of us know how to do this (if you don’t there are many resources available). Most of us have actually done it at some time in our lives. But most of us don’t do it now. There are a variety of reasons for this. Budgeting requires some discipline and few of us like that (including me). Sometimes budgeting takes on unpleasant associations in our minds. We may associate it with austerity or not being able to do what we want. The fact is that budgeting is nothing more than telling your money what to do in advance. It is about you controlling your money rather than your money controlling you.
Your money is going to go somewhere next month. You should be the one to decide where it goes. And when you decide that in advance, you will be surprised at how far it will go. A couple in our church with three children and a challenging financial situation recently adopted a written budget for the first time. Amazed at how it helped their finances, they echoed the sentiments of many when they told me, “It was like getting a raise.”