My wife has decided that we need to go on a budget. Now that we are both scaling back on work, there’s a lot more going out than coming in. As we downsize, we’re finding the same thing with trash as well.
A budget is like a diet. Seems like a good idea, looks great on paper and has a nice sound to it. (I mean, can you make up three dumber reasons to do something?)
When we first got married, Mary Ellen toyed with the idea of a budget, but when she realized that saving money required not spending as much, the idea lost a lot of its glow.
My wife has an MBA, which means she will be very meticulous about this. She’ll want receipts; she’ll question each expense; everything will be scrutinized. It’s enough to make me want to leave home, but I just know there will be no moving expenses in this budget.
“I’m dreading this,” I told her, “but let’s get started.”
“Alright, Dick, let’s begin by each of us naming expenses we have every month that we can’t change. Then we will know what our fixed costs are.”
“Mary Ellen, that’s a good idea. I’ll start with the mortgage, of course.”
“Exactly. And I’ll say pedicures.”
“The car payment.”
“Excellent. I’ll go with make-up.”
“Gas and electricity.”
“You know, Mary Ellen, I don’t think you’re really into the spirit of this. The car payment is a very different category than makeup and pantyhose.”
“Would you want to sit next to me in the car with bad hair and no make-up?”
“Point well taken. Let’s go on.”
“Dick, let’s each name something that we think the other person could save on. For example, I think you should give up that cup of coffee you get at the drive-thru every morning when you are running errands or go to Channel 8.”
“Why would I do that?”
“According to an article I read in Money magazine, if we had saved that $3 a day for the last 25 years and invested it in Apple or Amazon, we’d have $2 million in the bank. I bet that puts a little crimp in your caffeine addiction.”
“I feel so selfish. Just think, if I had given up going to Starbucks instead of Dunkin’ Donuts, we’d be billionaires.”
“Here’s another way we can save, Dick. Beginning today, we are going to start to make sacrifices. Money will be saved if we wash the car ourselves. Money will be saved if we do the landscape pruning work ourselves. Money will be saved if we change the car oil ourselves. Do you get what I mean when I say the word save?”
“Yes, but I also want to know what you mean when you say the word we.”
“OK, now let’s look at our home office expenses.”
“This is going to drive me to drink, Mary Ellen.”
“Not a problem. Just be sure to turn in your mileage at the end of the month.”