Who Needs A Budget?

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It’s the new year and if you are like me you set resolutions every January. This year my goals - not resolutions, but goals - include several related to finances.


As anyone in agriculture knows, there is one thing farmers don’t get regularly - a paycheck. For most of us payday comes at the end of the season, after we have already paid for all the inputs.


For some crops it takes even longer. I remember one year we finished planting the new crop of sweet potatoes and still hadn’t been paid for all of last season’s. You don’t get paid for sweet potatoes until they are packed and as we learned, it can take a year for your crop to move across the packing line.


For this reason I think it is vital for farmers to be good money managers, both at home and on the farm. We have to be if we are going to be sustainable. As important as this is, it’s one of the things we never talk about.


I learned a lot of money lessons the hard way and decided that I needed to start educating myself about money. I wanted to stop living paycheck to paycheck and wondering why there was more month than money.


I’ve read a number of books, follow several bloggers and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that money management is about behavior. If I want to manage money better, I have to change me. Sounds easy but if you have ever tried to lose weight, quit a bad habit (like drinking soda) or change anything that has it’s roots in your behavior you know it’s easier said than done.


I recently had the opportunity to read “Building a Budget That Works” by Jessi Fearon, otherwise known as The Budget Mama, before it launched. This was a fun, quick read that made budgeting, which sounds really hard and intimidating, really simple. It includes suggestions anyone can implement and, since she includes worksheets, by the time you finish reading your first budget should be finished.


I won’t share all the details, because then you won’t need to read the book, but I want to share three of her suggestions that are going to be a benefit to my budget.


1.  Write it down!


Jessi totally nailed it when she wrote that people try keeping their budget in their head instead of writing it down. This quote really jumped out at me:

          “Most people are afraid of knowing just how much money they spend every month.”


Yep, that’s me. If it’s written down on paper we can’t deny our spending habits. We have to take ownership and that is hard.


It’s not just how much I spend, but what I spend it on. I was looking at last month’s receipts and was truly shocked at how many 20 ounce Diet Coke’s I bought. Ten! At an average of $1.69 per bottle, before tax, that is almost $20 in one month. If I do that every month I’m spending $240 on soft drinks a year. That’s not good for my health or my wallet.


2. Cut back (and hopefully eliminate) impulse buys.


Cue the Diet Coke commercial (for the record I am not anti-Diet Coke. I actually love it. I am, however, trying to cut out caffeine and bulk up my savings so eliminating my caffeine habit will help me meet both goals.)

We all have bought things on impulse. That Snickers bar at the check out counter you spotted while waiting in line. The scarf calling your name when you walked in the store. A magazine you picked up to read while you wait and you can’t leave without finishing the article so you toss it in the cart. Impulse buys are things we didn’t intend to buy and can honestly, probably live without.


3. Shop only with a list.


This sounds so simple. I usually make a grocery list but I honestly have never thought about making a shopping list for clothes, books or anything else other than food. This alone will keep me from buying a red sweater when I already have two or filling my cart on Amazon with all the books that catch my eye.

If you want to know more, you’ll have to read “Building a Budget That Works,” available from The Budget Mama for just $2.99! That’s the price of two 20-ounce Diet Cokes so pass up those impulse buys and invest in your financial future.  


What budgeting tips would you add to this list?

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