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Tuesday, April 27, 1999

The Budget Fribble

by Lydia Vorsteveld

Until recently, if I saw an article about budgeting I'd glibly skip such drivel.I'd never have read this Fribble. I would move on, glad that I wasn't a debt-ridden spendthrift that needed a budget. Yes, I was one of the financially self-righteous.

I'd think, "Why would I need a budget? I have no credit card debt. I save 10% of gross income, plus invest for retirement and our children's education. My personal finances are fine, thank you." Self-righteous, see?

But a tiny voice nagged, "Where does the money go?" I had no clue, and yet I constantly thought about money. I worried about purchases from one-clicking at Amazon.com to a cosmetics splurge. Although I managed to spend less than earnings, I didn't know where the money went any better than someone overspending. Then one day at OfficeMax, overtaken by good sense, I bought a notebook titled, "Simplified Home Budget." After three months of receipt-hoarding and number-crunching, guess what I found out? I needed and liked a budget.

Today the budget has become a powerful decision making tool. I can manage my finances better because I have more information. The budget tracks and spells out income and outgo in black and white. The worries, guesswork, and maybe some of the self-righteousness, are eliminated.

I still spend and save about the same amount, but I have more peace of mind and less angst. It's freeing to know that those worrisome nickels and dimes I spent on pink lipstick didn't amount to much. Best of all, my budget has enabled me to spend less time on money and more time on life -- and that's priceless.

(Check out the Fool's Budgeting calculators to see what you're spending.)


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