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1 Apr 2013

Budgeting Lessons Learned from My Six-year-old Paper Blinds

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by Jesse Mecham

Paper blinds with real staying power.

Question: How long will a set of temporary paper blinds (the kind you first put up in a new home before you install the permanent window coverings) last?

Answer: At least six years. I’ll let you know when they fall down or disintegrate, but they appear to be going strong.

Sometimes YNAB slows consumption, which is great. Other times – at the right time – YNAB creates consumption.

In the case of the paper blinds hanging in my bedroom (that happen to be about a year older than my almost-kindergartner), a budget would have long ago given us permission to replace them.

Instead, we’ve had this conversation a couple dozen times as we’re headed to bed:

Kate: Do we have the money to get some permanent window coverings in here?

Mark: I don’t know – probably? How much do they cost?

Kate: They’re pretty expensive. $800 – maybe more.

Mark: Well, do what you have to do. That’s a pretty good chunk of cash – wouldn’t hurt to wait a while.

So, we waited a while.

And while we waited, $800 passed through our hands many times. But it never bought permanent window coverings.

All because we chose not to live Rules One and Two.

I don’t know about you, but purchases in the $200 to $1,000 range always trip me and Kate up. They seem too big to just run out and buy, but too small to save up for. So they get pushed off until we finally give up and just buy them. Or, in the case of the Longest Living Paper blinds, we stand our ground. Neither makes sense.

We’ve seen the light now, of course. I have a category called Home Repairs & Improvement under the master category of Rainy Day Funds. It’ll grow $50 at a time, and eventually we’ll have however much money we need to buy permanent window coverings.

Even better than having the money, we’ll have given ourselves permission to make the purchase.

That’s the freedom that comes from giving every dollar a job and saving for a rainy day.

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Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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