Friday, August 7, 2009

How do you budget?

I am a prepper at heart. Have been for a long time, with a few waves coming to the surface every now and again -- like regular unemployment periods, Y2k talk, Katrina, just being a large family...

I always need budget help. I write a great plan, but adherence just isn't always there. It is a lot of the time, just not all the time. That's a problem.

I like Dave Ramsey. A lot of folks don't. Most I've met who don't like him honestly don't feel the urgency of getting out of debt yet. They want to be more free, sure, they just don't have that strong desire there in their day to day realities of buckling down. They see a light at the far side of the tunnel and all, but they think they'll get there by probability instead of sacrifices or any sort of real life changes.

It just doesn't work that way. I'm just as guilty -- if I truly followed the Ramsey
Camp standard advice and lived the life I want, we'd have been way out beyond the debt boundary a long time ago. Fact of it is, Dave Ramsey has great advice and it does work and you will get out of debt and stop worrying about how the world functions around you...FICO scores, credit ratio scores, loan values, etc. You just won't care. Having a credit card will become something akin to taking the number of the beast once you realize life can function, and rather nicely to boot, without it.

In my budgeting and stocking up I'd really like to be more Mormon. Sorry, no, I'm not prescribing to the doctrine at all, but I dare anyone to find a better laid out resource for stocking foods and needs than the LDS pantry plan. You won't. The LDS church has storing food and supplies mastered to the fine details.

That's what I want in my pantry storage. Granted, some LDS sites I have tucked away share a lot of store-bought stock, and that's not my goal. But there are several that speak more to growing your own supply and putting it up, buying in bulk amounts for storage, etc. That's more my cup of tea.

I know a lot of folks don't agree at all, but hey, if it never happens, I'm still using my storage :o). There's no loss anything. But I don't believe we're going to keep living the lives we have come to expect very long. Utilities are rising all the time, and sure they throw you a bone now and then with a rebate check, but overall, prices are *not* going back down at all. And did you notice with the recent "minimum wage increase" everything that went up as well? Dairy, ink cartridges and fuel follow the same path and have for years.

I don't think we're as far from a Communist Russia kind of life here. Electricity is pricing itself (and now taxing itself) beyond most folks ability to keep it. How are you going to eat, then? You'll be buying a day or two of foods at a time and that's it. And many things won't be available for you.

I just don't see any downside to stocking and preparing your family. By nature, preppers try to remove debt -- that's certainly a good thing. By their nature of preps they will find changes in daily lifestyle limited -- no breads or meats at the store, like during Katrina even in the northern areas, and a prepper won't even notice. Folks running out to get bread, milk, TP and batteries before these great southern storms strike and a prepper stays home knowing they are as prepared as they can be for whatever comes.

When Katrina hit, we didn't access to the bank without going directly there, and for that first handful of days right after, we couldn't get our own money. The interlocked web of connectivity in ths country is insane. We waited 3 days for upline banking to get back to normal here -- and we are 7 hours north of anything Katrina touched! I don't like going to my bank and being told I can't get in my account yet. But the fact is, if you rely on the bank to process your life, you're at their whims and fancies. I hate direct deposit, but man, find a company who wants to print you off a check these days. Payday comes and I'm at the bank as they unlock the doors pulling our money out. One day I won't be able to do that and I need to be prepared for it.

But...I ramble and I know that. You need a budget to survive. Makes no difference if you're living paycheck to paycheck or if you have a ton of cash sitting in a room at your house like Scrooge McDuck.
1. Write out all bills and expenses.
2. Account for every single penny that you spend, on paper and in ink. Be totally honest. Every penny must be listed.
3. Plan a budget, on paper and in ink -- either week to week, paycheck to paycheck or a month ahead Plan it meticulously.
4. Food is the top priority. Housing is second. Utilities are third. Start on the bills and payments next.
5. Plan your bills from smallest to largest and don't let anything slow you down on paying them off in that order.
6. Get rid of the credit cards. You don't need them. They aren't being kept for an emergency and you know it. You use them. Stop. Get them paid off as quickly as you can.
7. Start making some lifestyle changes now while you still have some control. Even little things -- stop eating outside the home, stop buying sugared cereals and snack treats, drink water and limit the juices and sodas, turn off the lights, the TV, this computer...everything builds on something else.
8. Review that inked in budget and plan every so often and make forward running changes, but don't take yourself backward, ever.

Be honest with yourself -- you can do without this or that, you just don't want to. You can easily trim a good $100 off your expenses this month by taking a microscope look at it. I know you can. I know I can. Truth be told, I could probably do more than that even. Just start critiquing everything you spend money on...start questioning everything that goes into your shopping cart and questioning it hard, review your bills with a fine tooth comb and start, start cutting it apart penny by penny.

It won't hurt, I promise. Well, it might a little, at first, but once your pride and selfishness wears off, it won't hurt a bit :o)


Scarlett said...

You are totally right. There are so many people right now that don't have a clue how much money they spend. It can be hard to get on a budget, but since we have been on one it solves so many of my issues. I no longer have to worry so much about if we are going to have enough money to cover the bills, I know it is there. It was a little tough at first but I am so glad now that beloved lost his job to Mexico. We have been pretty good about staying out of debt, but I worry when I see people at the grocery store putting groceries on their credit card. I really hope they are paying it off when the bill gets there! Our only debt right now is beloved's truck payment and I cannot wait until it is paid off and I can feel free.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Milk and sugar are supposed to be going back up this fall. Sugar has already started; I checked today and the 25lb bag of sugar I get for around $10.50 just went up by more than $2. I don't know how much more it will rise, but I went ahead and got another one. I'll be using at least one for canning.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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