The Budgeting Season

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As guest-related activities start to slow down my duties as the Director of Finance begin to increase. Lake Ann Camp, along with the rest of the country traditionally celebrates four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter. Each season lasts about 2-3 months and has both its positive and negative attributes. For example, my favorite season is fall. Positives: the colorful leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin spice. Negatives: cleaning up all those colorful leaves, and knowing that 6 months of snow is right around the corner.

Our Fifth Season

However, there is a fifth season here at camp I like to call the ‘budgeting season’. It spans from late September to the beginning of December. As for the positives and negatives, let’s just say I’m sure the staff would choose the winter season over the budgeting season every time! I’m sure at this point you’re starting to recall the budgeting seasons in your personal finances along with all the feelings and emotions that come along with them. For some of you, that’s an exciting thought, and I’m right there with you. However, there are others that would rather run outside and throw themselves into the nearest snowdrift than work on a budget.

So what is it about budgeting that leads people to choose 20-degree temperatures and about 20 feet of snow? (The winter season at Lake Ann) I can’t answer for everyone, but I have heard people say they don’t really see the need for a budget or that they see the need, but simply find the process boring and overwhelming.

To Be Honest…

To be honest, there are times when I have similar feelings about budgeting. So what do I do when these feelings show up? First, I remember Dave Ramsey’s principle, “Live like no one else today so that I can live like no one else tomorrow”. In other words, have an end goal in mind. It could be helping your kids with college expenses, or planning for a 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Mediterranean (my wife’s goal). Having a goal in mind will really help give purpose to your budgeting. To help keep that goal in mind, you could even print out a picture of your goal and place it in the room where you work your budgeting magic. Every time you think about overspending a budget, take a look at that picture and remember why you are on a budget.

What if you don’t see the need for a budget or don’t like the restrictive feeling that can come with being on a budget? I’ve heard it said that either you’re controlling your money or your money is controlling you. When your money is controlling you, it seems as though you can never get ahead and you never have enough money to meet all your needs. While not on a budget you may feel like you have freedom, but you really don’t. You keep asking yourself where it all goes. It’s like your money is saying to you, “Spend me! Spend me!”

A Budget Places You In Charge Of Your Money

A budget places you in charge of your money. You’re really just giving every dollar in your account a job. You’re the one giving the orders. Would a soldier go out onto the battlefield without first planning and preparing? You need to plan and prepare ahead of time, not when you’re in the heat of battle with your desire to purchase something new and shiny.

A budget gives you control, but it also gives you the freedom from other people controlling your money. For example, in my personal finances, I budget for Christmas gifts every month of the year so that when December comes I have enough to purchase all my gifts with cash. If I wasn’t on a budget and didn’t save each month I could wait until December and just charge all the gifts to a credit card and then pay them off little by little over the months following Christmas. Banks love it when you do this because then they are able to tell you what to do with your money; i.e. pay some of it to them every month in the form of interest.

Another benefit of sticking to a budget is that it makes financial discussions in your home a whole lot less tense. Instead of being frustrated because you can’t figure out where all your money is going, you are able to plan, prepare and even dream about the future.

Maybe this is an area where you have struggled. I know that I still struggle at times with my finances. A New Year is fast approaching where new commitments can be made. I challenge you to set some goals, dream some dreams, and then map out your plan to achieve them.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

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