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14 Jul 2014

Don’t Be Scared of Reality

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by Jesse Mecham

As I said, we were in Europe for two weeks and got back on Thursday. And as Christy put it so well, vacation budgeting can be quite a challenge. I (Annie) am working on frugal vacationing (a post soon to come), and I’m pretty decent at it compared to what I did in the past. But it’s just so hard to track, especially when you’re using three different currencies!

I made a budget before I left, tried to plan out my itinerary as well as I could (I really stink at it because it kills my soul), and tried to make wise purchases while I was out. At one point during the second week, however, I think I had a screw-it moment. My budget suffered the same fate as my diet which was thrown out the window during the first day or two.

I found myself making purchases that I wouldn’t have made in the first week. At that point I just figured that I was already screwed, so I might as well just have fun and worry about it when I got home. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t making extravagant purchases of crystal and gold, but it was more like extra little gifts for my kids, a second glass of wine, or a sweet treat with my espresso. (Don’t worry; I’m still cheap.)

So my husband was like, “How are we with the budget?” And I’m like, “Uh…you’re the one that wanted to go out to eat tonight. And I don’t really know. I’m kind of scared to check.”

So we have a little convo about how I suck at planning itineraries, but then he says, “Reality is never something to be afraid of; that’s something YNAB taught me.” Of course. He was absolutely right.

Later that night he downloaded our transactions and saw where we were at. My prediction was that we were $1,000 over what we budgeted for. But in reality, at that point we were projected to end our vacation at about $250 over what we budgeted for. Now don’t judge me…but that’s not too bad. We’ve had vacations where we’ve gone about 4 times more than that over. Plus, this time we had a little padding left in our overall budget for just such an occasion, so we were fine.

He was right, though – knowing reality was much better than being left in the dark. Being in the dark is scary and stressful, and it just leads to more irrational behavior. But knowing that I overspent by $250 was manageable, and it led me to more rational behavior.

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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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