“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” ― Dave Ramsey
Both our personal lives and the businesses at which we labor are constrained by the financial resources at our disposal. These resource constraints vary greatly among people because, let’s face it, some people and businesses are simply better at making money than others. Regardless of the amount of money at our disposal, it is imperative that we maintain the upper hand in this struggle for survival.
It matters not how good or bad we are at making money - none of us has an endless supply. We’re all susceptible to our money gaining control of us. The key to us gaining control is discipline. An essential weapon in this battle, and something that is about as exciting as watching paint dry, is the budget.
The words discipline and budget often illicit negative reactions such as teeth-gnashing, wrinkled foreheads and hand-wringing. The thought of sitting down and poring over a checkbook, stacks of bills or bank statements doesn’t exactly get the heart pumping with excitement. In fact, it may cause nausea, nervousness, and heavy perspiration. Whatever the reaction of our body’s nervous system, it’s extremely helpful for our peace of mind.
It may be an uncomfortable process to endure, but it’s one of the best ways to control our money rather than allowing our money to control us. It works because it helps instill discipline in our spending habits and shows us where to “cut the fat”.
A couple of years ago, the employees at REMC were given the opportunity to learn from a multi-part video series produced by a noted financial educator. The lessons imparted a great deal of common-sense wisdom and helped show how a budget can help us discipline ourselves. While the budget itself cannot instill the discipline, it will help keep us on a track that prevents us from falling into the abyss of mounting debt that leads to money controlling us.
Attempting to navigate through the financial waters each month without some foresight into what’s coming in and going out of our bank accounts can lead us to take on too much water. If we decide to set off in a canoe down an unfamiliar river, we would need to acquire some knowledge of the twists, turns, shallow spots, and swift currents prior to taking off. Encountering an unexpected challenge on our journey down the river could prove disastrous. Without a financial map (budget) the same thing could happen on our journey through life.
There are many other ways to control our money such as systematically eliminating debt and building up emergency savings. But the key to staying in control is to be disciplined and to create the map that will let us know how to get where we’re going.
Matt Miller is the Manager of Financial Service as Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC.