Can I afford it?
Two things made me start budgeting – one, I was sick of being in debt; two, I was sick of always asking “can I afford it” and not knowing the answer.
Stressing about a purchase I want is bad enough; stressing about one I really need is gut wrenching. And since my budget provides the answer so easily (although not always the answer I want) that’s one big stressor that is finally out of my life!
My budget tells me if I can afford it today. My spending plan and financial picture tell me if I can afford it in the near future. They also tell me what it will take to make it happen.
Some questions I ask:
1. Do I have any discretionary categories I can take the money from?
2. Would I rather spend the money on the purchase I’m considering, or the one I originally budgeted for? Can I do both?
3. Can I add this item to a future spending plan without reducing any regular monthly spending?
4. Can I add this item to a future spending plan by reducing a regular monthly discretionary category?
5. Can I add a new monthly expense to my spending plan without reducing any regular monthly spending?
6. Can I add a new monthly expense to my spending plan by reducing a regular monthly discretionary category?
It’s like the story problems we used to do in math class. The answer is in the math. I may not always like it, but at least I’m getting an honest answer – math doesn’t lie!
Sometimes it’s hard to think these things through when I’m stressed, so I like to set aside time alone in a quiet room where I can focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. It’s like a puzzle. Look at all the pieces and see how they fit together. Give it time and patience and a clear picture will emerge.
There are many who don’t ask these questions and explore their options first, because we’re programmed to think that the answer is always “make more money.” So the easy answer is to take on more hours at work or get a second job. If someone wants to work more, I’m certainly not against it, but it makes me sad to think that many are doing it because they believe it’s the only way. Too bad lifestyle creep usually eats up the “extra” money from side jobs or overtime.
So before you run out and apply for another job, remember that you could end up in the same boat, if your money habits don’t change – except you’ll have to work a lot more!
Sometimes it helps to have another pair of eyes looking things over. Sometimes we’re too close to a situation to see the simple answer. Sometimes, we’re too emotionally invested to think rationally about it.
Need help? Schedule a free budget consultation with me!
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