How to Be Ecstatic About Plummeting Account Balances

My account balances have been plummeting in the last week. And it’s okay.

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In fact, it is more than okay. It’s just like we drew it up, and it feels great.

No, my wife and I aren’t draining our savings in retirement. We didn’t suddenly sock thousands in our IRAs, though that is part of our plan, too. Instead, we’re finally acting on some Rule Two savings that we have been putting away for a few years now.

A few years ago, we started saving for a garden renovation project. We are transforming a corner of our lot that has suffered in its direct sunlight into an herb and perennial
garden that will flourish there. This past week, we dropped some serious cash on a landscaper who came in and cleared the space in half a day, a project that would have taken me weeks of back-breaking work (which I don’t mind, but with three kids and a forty-year-old back, it is getting more difficult). I also drove to the landscaping supply company and ordered a pallet full of pavers to be delivered. They will make a nice border between this new garden and our driveway. The money for all of it was right here, sitting in the budget category we had established for the project.

We also have a 140 year-old New England farmhouse that, somehow, has had all of its fireplaces and wood stoves removed over the years. So, we decided last year to prioritize some money from tax returns and some “third paycheck of the month” money into a Rule 2 category for a new gas fireplace. The money has been following our budget. Just sitting and patiently waiting, doing its job. Until this week, when I put in the rough framing just in time for the fireplace company to ask for the balance due so they could finalize our order. No problem. The money was ready.

Up until recently, all of this saving was really boosting our account balance. With it all coming due at once, though, the balance in our main spending account (we paid cash for all of it, and we only have one checking account – keeping it simple keeps everyone in the budgeting game) took a serious drop.

About twenty percent. And it’s okay.

In fact, it’s a great reason not to pay too much attention to our account balance. Now, don’t get me wrong. Higher balances are good. And they will probably come along with successful budgeting. If I used account balances to judge our budgeting success, though, I might be panicking now. At best, I would be lamenting that drop. Ah, we were doing so well, I might have said to myself, and now look.

Instead, we are celebrating. We used Rule One to give a lot of dollars those jobs over the last year or so. They followed Rule Two and waited. Then we spent the money – that’s what it was there for. We used our budget to reach two goals we really wanted, things that will make us happy for years to come. The balances will be fine – I’ll be keeping an eye on the garden, on the fireplace, and on our categories instead.