Enough Time To… Budget

The first two posts in this ships log have been a bit gloomy, so its high time we broached a subject that I do have enough time to do – budgeting! The “Enough Time” Machine seems to vapourise credits (along with the hydrogen grilles, but we clearly weren’t at fault for that).

Budgeting Then

I can credit my mum for teaching me how to budget. When I got my first job as a teenager, she sat me down with a ruled exercise book, and made me record the ins and the outs. The habit carried over into our marriage, where I used to budget to every dollar. I used the envelope system with cash to keep on top of our debts and save for future expenses. However, we eventually committed the cardinal sin of Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)…

(WARNING: if you are on the path to FIRE, raise your hand so the ship’s doctor knows how many medkits to prepare. At the very least, take a seat because the artificial gravity means you WILL fall in a floor wise direction.)

… as our wages grew and our debts dropped, we succumbed to (mumble) lifestyle inflation (*cough*). That’s right, we simply absorbed the extra money we were no longer paying towards debt, into our normal lives.

Robot facepalm
Robot Facepalm (CC BY 2.0)

In a way, it was a reward. Budgeting can get tiring after a decade or so, particularly for those who just don’t feel the joy. We’d reached our goal of being debt free, and so didn’t have to do it any more. After a few years of this, however, I started to feel as if we were missing something. It just didn’t feel right, which I think may have had more to do with not having any goals to work towards, more so than simply concerns about spending money. I then discovered FI, and in January this year, began budgeting again.

Budgeting Now

Initially I used that sexy program, Excel, however we have multiple bank accounts, which was really making things quite tricky. Also, Mr. ETT didn’t wasn’t inclined to log on to the computer to fill out a spreadsheet, so we needed something better. After reading a bunch of blogs (many of which are noted on our Blogroll), I decided to investigate YNAB. This was a big step for me, because I am still somewhat suspicious of the risks of storing sensitive data in the cloud, but after the first week into the free trial period, they had me hooked. There is also an app, which means we can both add expenses as we go. I play around in it nearly every day, while Mr. ETT likes to save his up and enter once a week.

So why am I successful at spending time budgeting? It is only a small daily commitment, it doesn’t matter if a day or week are missed. I have also enjoyed the benefits of it previously, so the returns are guaranteed. Finally, I enjoy playing with the numbers, and thinking about our goals. In a way, it’s like fantasising about what I would do if I won the lotto*, only more realistic and obtainable.

* Mrs. ETT – tell no one and lock it away for the rest of time; Mr. ETT – buy all the things; Frank & Jelly – *yawn*

I know this is the antithesis of budgeting, but I’m curious – do you ever allow yourself a few minutes of fantasising about winning the lotto?

Time well spent this trip…
Book: The Demon Apostle by R. A. Salvatore
Comic: Storm Dogs (Image)
Tabletop RPG: Pathfinder Eberron
Game (Mr. ETT): World of Tanks
Mission: WordPress

4 thoughts on “Enough Time To… Budget

  1. Good to see you’re back on the straight and narrow πŸ™‚ Lifestyle inflation is unavoidable if you don’t have another financial goal to work for (such as FIRE), so I can totally understand why it happened to you! Everyone makes choices they wish they could take back. At least you decided this now, not in 10 years time πŸ™‚

    YNAB sounds interesting. At the moment we use Commbank’s expense tracking, it’s free but doesn’t do exactly what I want it to.

    Tristan

    • I LOVE YNAB! Wow, that looks a little crazy eyes when I write it like that. I will be starting to do some posts about our budget soon, so you’ll be able to see how we use it. If you don’t want to wait, they do a 34 day free trial, so you could run it in parallel for a month and see what you think (and I’m not even affiliated here).

  2. Hi Mrs ETT

    Well done on getting back on track – it just goes to show how important it is to have goals to aim for.

    After I had paid off my debts, I too got caught up in a little lifestyle inflation but was able to save a bit. Five years later, I discovered the path to FI and with a plan in hand, I was able to save in two years what had previously taken me 5 years to save!

    Like you, I don’t look back on those higher spending (but debt free) days with regret that I didn’t save more – paying down debt is very tiring and I had been doing it for the better part of 15 years.

    Unlike you however, because I budgeted meticulously when I was trying to pay down my debt, it’s not something that I do now that I am debt free – I didn’t/don’t enjoy it, kind of reminds me of dark days!

    I guess whatever I’m doing just works for me.

    Love your ‘time well spent’, although a couple of my friends have become ‘World of Tanks’ widows…the guys find it very addictive!

    “do you ever allow yourself a few minutes of fantasising about winning the lotto?”

    Yes of course I do – I’ve always been a lottery player and always will be – winning the jackpot is a dream, not part of my FI plan! Also, UK lottery funds helped our Olympic team to a record medal haul, so I’m happy I helped contribute to their success!

    • “I was able to save in two years what had previously taken me 5 years to save!” – while it is early days yet (no data), I have a feeling that we may experience something similar. It will be worth me keeping an eye on it for future investigation.

      As for World of Tanks, Mr. ETT plays it on a console in the loungeroom, and I must confess that occasionally I find myself actually watching!

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