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I was chatting with a friend the other day, and she was talking about how it had just been “one thing after the other this month.”
A new HVAC system (ouch!), an unexpected payment due to her accountant (unexpected because she thought she’d paid it seven months ago!), and the dog had to have surgery. Because of course.
And before she even said it, I knew exactly what she was going to say next.
“We were totally going to get ahead this month, but then all this stuff! Hopefully, next month…”
I didn’t want to burst her bubble but, she left me no choice: “Tina. Next month is Christmas?”
“Ugh. Right. Well, January. Surely January will be a normal month.”
And there it was. The infamous “normal month.”
It is my strong belief that every person in America, living without a budget, has uttered these words at some point or another.
Normal Month — [nawr-muhl muhnth], Noun: A month in which every single thing in your life goes exactly as planned and there are no expenses other than your standard monthly bills.
So, never. Never will there ever be a normal month.
You would never in one million years expect, believe, or even hope (because it would be a total waste of time!), that absolutely every single thing in your life would go exactly as planned for an entire month. (Or even really, a day, for that matter. This blog was supposed to be published about seven hours ago. But I had a day. Am I projecting? Possibly. But still…)
Life just doesn’t work that way. And we know that.
But for some reason, when you aren’t in control of your money, it is incredibly tempting to just cover your eyes and scream, “LA, LA, LA, LA, LA!”
It feels easier to just “hope” that you’ll have a “normal month” than to save for your true expenses and live with a budget. Feels being the operative word…
Because it is not at all easier. In fact, what is the exact opposite of easier? Oh right—harder. It is infinitely harder to always be scrambling, stressed, guilty, uncertain, taken off guard, falling behind, and coming up short, than to just live on a budget.
A budget gives you control of your money. It forces you to open your eyes, and it will patiently wait for you to stop shouting, at which point, it will help you and your money stay focused on the things that are most important to you.
Stop praying/wishing/hoping for a normal month and make budgeting your new normal.
A budget won’t make the months normal—it cannot bend the time-space continuum—but it will help you face and save for your true expenses. The months, every one, will have surprises and unexpected expenses, but when you have money in the bank, and you are saving for the inevitable-things-that-you-might-not-know-exactly-when-they-will-happen-but-you-know-they-will-happen little by little every month, surprises aren’t emergencies. You just pay the bill or write the check or cover the overage, and life rolls normally along.
Put money aside—even a little bit of money—every month for home repairs, paying your accountant, and your pets, and even the craziest of months will feel pretty normal.
There is no normal month. But there is a very normal way to deal with your finances so they aren’t always stressful and it is called a budget. You need one.
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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