We've been asked on several occasions by newly-marrieds or soon-to-be-marrieds "How do you budget?"
That's cue for Steve and I to look at each other and say, "Budget? What's a budget?"
We are proud D.I.N.K.s (Double Income No Kids), and for now the "no budget" policy works for us. I acknowledge that it may not always be this way.
Because so much of our time is spent working, making money, we figure it would be wrong not to enjoy the fruits of our labor - at least a few grapes. Before any of our bills are paid, our paychecks are dispersed into separate accounts. Fun money for Steve. Fun money for Jill. The remaining goes to our joint account from which we pay bills, add to our mutual savings, and so on. We have no say over what one another spends their fun money on. If I want shoes, it's my money to spend. If Steve wants a new disc (for Disc Golf), he can buy it guilt-free. But once this money is gone, there is no dipping into our joint-account for more fun money, no matter how far away the next pay-period is.
We don't have individual funds for "groceries" or "gas" or "mortgage". We maintain our life as simply and frugally as possible. We live in a small space with a low mortgage payment, minimum cable, bag lunches, share a fuel-efficient car, turn the air/heat/lights off when we're not home, and watch for bargains on nearly everything. We do this because it all adds up to money we'd rather spend on fun than an inflated bill.
From my fun money account, I also have a separate savings account. A (very) small amount from my checking is transferred to savings on a monthly basis. It's surprising how fast it adds up. This money acts as a buffer in case I'm running low on fun money or if I want to save up for something big (usually a trip).
All that to say....
I made a semi-big purchase (entertainment-related) upon receiving my last allowance. So I haven't had any money to shop with for the past couple weeks. Surprisingly, I've been OK. I haven't even dipped into my buffer-money. It's caused me to re-evaluate where this money is going, why I'm constantly holding out for the next paycheck, when what I receive is certainly more than enough.
It's no easy thing to change spending habits. Mine have been gradually evolving since that credit card fiasco in my late teens. I was brought up to be frugal, but maybe missed the part about passing on things that are only so-so. The end result is a closet full of so-so things and an empty bank account.
What would happen if I were to save up for a pair of $250 shoes? And then not buy them. And what if this became my new spending habit? I'd be rich, that's what! Or, at least I'd feel rich. And then when I spot the most perfect thing, no matter what it is, I might actually be able to afford it. Whether it be $5 or $500.
I don't think this means that I should shop less. Oh contrar. I should shop more, buy less. And when I do buy, buy what I love, not just what might work. And buy better overall.