Budgeting – it’s all about the cash!

“Budgeting” is not exactly an exciting or inviting word. Often the word conjures up images of being spend thrift; looking in the sale sections of stores and shopping around endlessly for the bargain you are looking for, only to settle for something second best that you didn’t really want.
When myself and my family were forced to revaluate our financial situation, this word became a regular visitor into our family conversations. Like an awkward long lost relative it would arrive unannounced at the most inopportune of times – whilst having dinner, out walking or laying in bed ready for slumber. No matter how hard we tried we just couldn’t get away from it. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we were ever flush or had the luxury to be spending as we pleased, its just that budgeting was something that like many of us, we never did. Spending as we went about our daily lives , with little thought as to where our money was going- after all those little bits of plastic hold an infinite amount of cash and credit on the other end, don’t they ?
There is no doubt that we now live in a society that readily accepts that people live far and beyond their means, and often with large amounts of debt; according to debt.org the average American household has up to $15,000 worth of credit card debt alone!
Budgeting has been the life line that our family needed. Instead of being the awkward long lost relative, it has now become a most welcome friendly uncle who we happily embrace into our lives. Budgeting has surprisingly created space for us, and become very liberating. The most important rule of budgeting for us, has been to only using cash for our weekly expenses, drawing out the budget at the beginning of the week and dividing it into the necessary expenses- food, toiletries etc. We ┬ánow know exactly what we have and exactly what we can spend. Using cash only has allowed us total control- we no longer hand over the cards, blindly hoping for the best. Another advantage to using cash is that it really helps you to understand the true value of your purchases. I have found it really satisfying to be aware of what things cost, often using cards can dull this sense, but when you literally watch the cash disappear from your eyes you are made much more aware. Shopping around for better value goods is actually very satisfying. I often think huh you think you can cheat me! We’ll think again, I am onto you. Shopping around for deals creates a healthier and more competitive market place thus forcing sellers to come up with better deals for us consumers.