We are avid "save for it before you buy it" people. Granted, you can't really do that with a house, but focus on paying down/off the house asap. How can anybody do that? Absurd? Life with mortgage and car payments is just the way it is. Not true.
It is possible to become and live debt free, but takes commitment to the goal and the process. It takes a budget. Eek! Budget!!! Budgets are essential to accomplishing your goal. It's like a recipe to a cake, a personal trainer to fitness, its a tool to your financial accomplishment.
A budget can look different to each person, but in many cases will have common items like mortgage payment, grocery expenses, insurance payments, bills. But what will look different is the amounts, what's coming in and what's going out in different manners.
Once we had accomplished much of our initial financial goal from when we first married, we have kind of coasted for a while, not giving much thought to budgets, albeit distracted by childhood cancer a long the way, but maintaining the pay as you go mentality. Kept us out of trouble, that's for sure. Recently a new direction was becoming apparent. While we had been putting some money away for retirement, the question became how much, along with the kids educational future and with a special needs child, there is more too. RRSPs, RESPs, RDSPs and TFSA's so many initials and all needing attention. And as usual there is only a certain amount of money coming in, expenses going out and now decisions on how to fit in the rest. Once again a budget plan comes into play with new goals.
A budget isn't all about restrictions and limitation, to us it has actually been relieving. Knowing there is a plan, what is doable and while there is give and take, it is much more freeing knowing that choices over where money is going is keeping the
families best interests in mind, and not to let the cheap pleasures of today keep us from that. Smells like frugal living you say? Why yes it is. Frugal doesn't mean being cheap, eating macaroni cheese for supper each night and only using one light bulb in the house. It's about putting your money to things that matter! Not just cheap thrills of the moment. We enjoy our lives because we purposely spend and save our money to things that matter to us, not the Jones'.
I'd like to do a little study on what people really think of budgets and how they work in the real world. There are many methodologies of personal finance and curious to know how well people succeed by them and stick to them. Let me know, do you budget? Has it helped you? How do you budget?
Several months ago I had a dream that stuck with me. I enjoy walks/hikes and this is how this dream started off. I was walking along a trail on a beautiful sunny day and remarking to myself how perfect this hike was when I abruptly came upon a cliff. So abruptly that I simply stepped right off it without even seeing it. I landed in a raging river and while sputtering back to the surface I'm thinking to myself "How did I not see it? I don't normally walk off cliffs... this can't be happening." While I'm trying to keep myself afloat and staring at the tall cliff I just walked off, I hear a voice behind me saying "Hey, come, follow me this way". I turn to see someone afloat in a tube in the same raging river but smiling while waving me on, "The end of the river is this way, you'll be OK." Still numb and unable to think, I just start to swim my way along side her and begin to notice that the water doesn't seem as raging and I'm able to swim smoother. Getting over the shock, I look ahead and I see that there are others swimming in the same river towards the river's end, which in the distance looks so much more calmer. My goal becomes, 'get to the end of the river.' As I swim I start to feel stronger and I look back at the cliff I had walked off and to my surprise I see someone walking off it like I did, and some more already in the water behind me. I holler back to them to "Come, this way, you'll be OK!"
As I'm swimming along and gathering with others swimming and floating along the way I notice that there is a couple at the shore edge being helped out of the water. My first thought was "hey, how come they get to get out earlier", but quickly
change my thought to "its better to stay in the river" as I see and hear their cries. Yes, stay in the river and swim to the end, that is best place to be.
I woke up shortly after that. That was where we were in our journey of childhood cancer with our middle child. We had walked off a cliff we didn't see, floundered a bit as we asked "why, why our son, why our son with special needs, why our family, why us, why me." We found our way among others on a similar journey ahead of us that were more than willing to be supportive and encouraging. And yes, the reality of those who left the journey early to start a different journey of loss and grief.
Now we are further down the river. The waters are calmer and the sky sunnier. The river is still going on. How long is it, I don't really know... but I like swimming too and we are together.