Saturday, August 15, 2009

Parlez Vous Finance?

Times are tough, and a lot of people seem to be focusing on saving money. The word on the street is that many people even have a - I hope I'm pronouncing this right - 'budget.'

Now, K and I are no high rollers. Far from. Neither are we what I would call frivolous spenders. But we have never actually taken the time to work out a budget. Communication about money matters in our household basically consists of the occasional "We need to be a little thriftier this month" or "Do we really need this?"

This system - or, more accurately, total lack of system - has worked out all right for us so far. We watch our cash flow and try not to spend too much on items that are wants rather than needs, especially when money is tight. But I think we can do better. And it's time to take a long hard look at our money-in, money-out situation for a couple reasons.

First of all, we racked up some debt last year following our move to Chicago. I was unemployed for the first few months, which meant a significant decrease in income no matter how you slice it. We made a few large purchases, most notably a new mattress and a trip to Ireland. Then K's appendix decided to act a fool and he ended up undergoing major surgery topped off by a six-day hospital stay. These things are extremely expensive even for those of us who are lucky enough to have health insurance!

We have been doing a pretty good job paying down our debt, and at this rate should be free of it by early next year. I am looking forward to the day when we can stop worrying about interest and start thinking about building some real savings. That day will probably arrive sooner if we take time now to devise a budget and a plan. So that is the goal for this week. One day, if we decide to participate in any of the crazy expensive activities that so many people get sucked into, like buying a place or having babies, I'm sure we will look back and thank ourselves.

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