Spending Plans vs. Budgets

by anne on July 14, 2011

I don’t budget well. Maybe it’s my notion that a budget is restrictive and will keep me feeling deprived. But when I label it a spending plan it feels expansive and flexible.

Okay, I suppose I could change my definition, but I find the using the term spending plan pleases me and, in the larger scheme of things, probably doesn’t matter.

Here’s why it’s important to me. Today I went to Costco to get gasoline and pick up a prescription. I also got the air checked in my tires, for free. I love it when someone does that for me and the folks there seem more or less happy to do so. The meds and the gas are something I plan for regularly. I know about how much each costs a month.  At the end of the week I’ll add those expenses the actual column in my plan. Since I’ve got a planned column it’s easy for me to see if I’m spending more or less than I planned. That lets me make good decisions.

Of course many consider Costco a shopping mecca and I’ll admit I looked a bit longingly at new computers and smart phones as I went by. Neither of those are on this month’s spending plan and each have their own savings account.

When I got to Trader Joe’s for groceries I was tempted by a lovely lavender plant. Obviously a lavender plant isn’t part of my grocery spending plan, but I also have a bit set aside each month for the garden. Knowing that and looking the plant over carefully I joyfully put it in my cart and continued, delighted when, somehow, my total bill actually came a bit under what I had planned, even with the plant.

With a plan and by tracking my numbers, I reduce the sort of impulse spending that results in a bunch of stuff I don’t really want, yet allows me the flexibility to treat myself in a reasonable way when it’s appropriate.

The name of the thing doesn’t matter. I could call it my left shoe if that’s what it took to actually plan how I want to spend my money and check to see if I’m sticking to the plan in a reasonable manner.

How do you keep track of what you want to spend and what you actually spend?

Love, blessings and abundance,

 

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