FB – Not Facebook, Flexible Budgeting!

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“Money” image by Tax Credits on Flickr by CC by 2.0.

When it comes to money, milspouses know exactly what is going on! We know the paychecks coming in and all the bills we have going out. We (hopefully!) have a budget plan for the month with other activities going on that we need to be able to pay for. And when it comes to the end of the month and money is getting tight, no one knows better how to make a dollar stretch than a milspouse!

Wouldn’t you know it, once we think we have the budget for the month perfected, something always comes up! There could be an unexpected car repair or your microwave suddenly stops working (yes, it’s been two weeks since I’ve had a microwave – and I’ve survived). Then there’s the times you see a nice pair of jeans in the store or your kids want the newest Xbox game.

In every scenario you find yourself saying, “No” or, “It’s not in the budget.”

Those words are just a huge black cloud that hangs over the entire family.  So how can we keep the family happy, the house in working order, and the bank account in the black? Make room in your budget to say “Yes!”

Loosen the Belt on the Budget

The zero-based budget (a budget where you assign every dollar a job) is the most common form of budgeting simply because it works.  But, sometimes it works TOO well.  With every dollar tied up, we find ourselves so restricted that one thing just throws us over the edge and we can’t handle it!

We have to find a way to loosen up a bit and let that budget breath.  Re-examining frivolous spending can yield you some major rewards and extra room in the monthly budget.  Even if you can reduce your overall spending by as little as 10%, you can find yourself with a little more wiggle room and a lot less money-related stress for everyone.

Where can you cut back in your own budget?  Can you eat in more instead of eating out?  Can your cable or phone plans be reduced at all?

Budget for Splurges

It is no secret that we get some gratification out of buying something that we want or buying a gift for someone else. In today’s society where we are inundated with things companies think we want, we tend to go overboard with our splurges and blow our bank accounts out of the water! So to get things back under control, we restrict ourselves and tell ourselves no more shopping. Boy, can that backfire.

Once we get a taste of that sweet satisfaction of a new shirt, it’s all over from there. Poor bank account.

The other scenario is that our budget is just so awesome down to the penny that we don’t have room to randomly spend money on clothes or a new movie. All work and no play, well, you know how it goes.

Budget for a splurge – or mad money, crazy spending, whatever you want to call it. Again, re-examine your budget and look for money thieving areas and, most importantly, figure out what you want to indulge on:

  • If you enjoy your morning Starbucks, budget for it!
  • If you like to have the newest game release, budget for it!
  • If you want to have a date night with your spouse, budget for it!

Having something built in the budget can bring you peace of mind. You know that it’s planned for and you won’t have to worry about spending money that should really go towards your electric bill.

Everything Within Reason, Of Course

Naturally, you need to be level headed about this. Your funds set aside in your mad money category should fit reasonably with your income level. If you are having trouble paying your monthly obligations but want to indulge on a monthly spa treatment, we should be looking at the difference between wants v. needs instead.

We are milspouses. We are master planners and know that the military is anything but predictable. We prepare ourselves for the countless possibilities. Is your budget as flexible?

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