I received a really interesting email question: “NCN, I love your blog. I was wondering, do you ever struggle to stay on budget?” My answer? YES! Even though I consider myself to be a pretty disciplined individual (now), I do struggle with overspending. My wife is the “spender” in the family, but I’m the “nerd” who feels that he “deserves” to buy something, as a “reward” for such hard work. I like gadgets. I like expensive gadgets. I’d love to have a big screen HDTV, a brand-new iPod, and a massive home stereo system. Alas, while I could afford these items, I cannot “afford” these items. I have learned to gaze into my future and ask if the product I’m about to buy is going to be a blessing or a curse. Will I still enjoy it 6 months down the road, or will I regret my purchase? IF I decide that I really do need (or want) something, I make a plan to find a very, very good deal. I’m typing this particular post on my new laptop, which I purchased for under 400 dollars, and for which I shopped for more than 6 months.
“But, NCN, what about day-to-day overspending at the grocery store, Target, video rentals, etc? How do I get a handle spending too much on the “little” things?” I’m glad you asked. I create a budget category labeled “Fun”. I BUILD INTO MY BUDGET enough money so that I can enjoy buying the little things for myself and my kids. I plan ahead so that I don’t have to feel guilty when I have a mini-splurge. I have to be careful, though. It’s VERY easy to “reward” myself too often.
I have found that a budget, built on common sense, is the best way to go. Plan for your daily needs, your monthly expenses, your short and long term saving, your debt repayment, and your “wants”. The key is BALANCE. A balanced budget, a balanced lifestyle, and a balance between wisdom and desire.
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