Why I’m happier on a tighter budget

by Karen on September 24, 2009

Yesterday I confessed that we kind of blew our budget this month.

After a summer living on cash, we went a overboard once we started using our debit cards again. It wasn’t that we went completely nuts and totally disregarded our budget. It was much sneakier than that. It was a few things here and there at the grocery store, because we can afford it now, right? It was stopping on the way home from work to pick up a few things because why not?

For us, it’s never something huge that blows our budget. We’re too careful about big purchases for that to happen. Big purchases are always planned out, saved for. What blows our budget are the fifty or so purchases throughout the month. $1 here, 50 cents there. Then suddenly we’re a week from the end of the month and we’re already out of money.

Living on a cash budget, that didn’t happen. Each and every purchase was given the same consideration as a major purchase. Even if it wasn’t, we were protected from spending next week’s budget today because we didn’t have the money on hand. All we had was what we were allowed to spend for the week.

As I’ve said before, my favorite part about living on cash was that there was no Monday budget dread. I didn’t look at the budget on Monday morning and kick myself for overspending on the weekend. We withdrew what we wanted to spend, and that was what we spent. It was so much less stressful for me to have those decisions made ahead of time instead of keeping track of everything in my head. I could just enjoy the weekend without adding things up in my head, because I knew that we were spending the right amount.

My point is, we have decided to live on a cash budget going forward. With so much to save, we can’t afford to let a hundred little purchases eat away at our savings. We’re getting serious for the next 15 months so we can have it all: Europe, a stress-free move, a healthy emergency fund, and our own home sooner rather than later.

And instead of feeling restricted by our tighter budget, I feel free from the stress and worry of trying to keep track of all of our purchases in my head. Life is too short to spend it worrying about every little purchase.

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Should you keep a cushion in your checking account? — Living Well on Less
September 29, 2009 at 8:04 am

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