I asked my husband of nearly thirty years tonight while we were on our weekly four-mile walk (our cheap weekly date) what he though of our budget, stating that I needed to write an article on it. Michael is the chief recorder of the budget in our “budget book.” The Good Captain, USN Retired said, “Having a budget is critical to living within your means and avoiding debt. Without a budget you are driving your car down a freeway at night without any headlights where a crash is imminent.”
All right: so there you have it. We need the darn thing–the budget. But how does one do it?
The SOS philosophy says: SOS: Set Our Spending (create a family budget). I was impressed today, Sunday 8 November 2009, by Father Emmett Carroll’s homily in which he stated that in the time of Jesus, in the temple, there were 13 different boxes placed around for the temple offerings. Perhaps you dropped your coins into the “wine box,” or maybe you stuffed your monies into the “flour box,” or the “oil box.” So with that in mind, lets look at category budgeting. Picture, if you will, thirteen different envelopes. This is the way families used to do it way back when and how we do our income now. The first is tithe; the second, mortgage; the third, food; the fourth, auto; the fifth, medical; the sixth, household; the seventh, savings/investment; the eighth, entertainment/education; the ninth, clothes; the tenth, insurance; the eleventh, debt; the twelfth, vacations, and the thirteenth, other. Take you income and distribute your money into each of these envelopes. If you prefer to keep your income in your checkbook, then take your income and divide that earning onto thirteen sheets of paper like the above envelopes. Now every time you spend something, either pull that money from the envelope, or after you have deducted the expense from the checkbook then deduct it from the category which you penned. When you add up all of those remaining figures, then it will equal your checkbook final calculation. That is how category budgeting is accomplished.
For example, you go to the gas station and spend $50 for gas. With the envelope system, you would take the funds with you, but with the pages system, you’d deduct it from your checkbook then from the penned category. When the monies are gone, you don’t spend anymore. Period. If you need a healthy shopping spree for stress, rob a category and take $3 in change and go to Goodwill. Works wonders.
By living this way for thirty years, we have been able to understand clearly how much money is coming in and be aware of what the expenses are and how to plan for them. With five children, that has been hugely important. Category budgeting has given us the freedom to minimize the stress of not being prepared for everyday expenditures. We haven’t been 100% successful all of the time, and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but the Good Captain has guided us well. And with a budget, you can plan for your operating costs, plan for your charitable contributions including money to The Church, and avoid living beyond your means.
Isn’t that what being a “Frugal Catholic” is all about??