Living within your means is one of the best ways to achieve security. Someone once said that there are two ways to be happy:
1. To get everything that you want in life. This is how most people attempt to be happy.
2. To want everything that you have in life. This is a much simpler means of achieving happiness.
As a Christian, pastor, and counselor, I've discovered that many of the unhappy people out there are only so largely because they attempted to live outside their means and it came back to haunt them.
A budget will solve this problem for you. It will give you stability, security, and freedom. I make what is considered to be poverty wages by the government. Yet I own both my vehicles, and everything in my house is paid off. I have money stashed away for a rainy day, and investments. Only the house itself am I still paying on. Trust me; there is no feeling like not having to worry about money.
The average person considers what I make to be insufficient to maintain their lifestyle. So how do I do it? A budget.
Here are some of the benefits of having and living by a budget:
1. Financial Security. A budget allows you to free yourself from the worry of paying a particular bill. I don't worry about credit card payments, mortgage payments, or anything. My budget takes care of all that.
2. Know what you can spend. Most people hope they'll have enough money to buy something. If not, it goes on a credit card and they'll end up paying interest. With a budget, you know exactly how much you can spend.
3. Know what is affordable. Similar to the last, point with one distinction. You'll be able to make decisions about the future easier knowing exactly what you can and cannot afford.
4. Build your credit hassle free. Credit is ruined when you can't make the payments. With a budget, you don't have that problem. You'll know what you can and cannot afford.
5. Get your priorities right. Money should not be the main priority in a relationship. But when money is mishandled, it becomes consuming and overwhelming. It becomes priority. But with a budget, you'll be able to focus on your marriage, your children, and your other relationships without the worry of money issues or pressure.
6. Prepare for the future. Everyone ought to be setting some money aside for the future. Retirement or that rainy day will come. You need to be ready. But how much can you set aside if you don't know what your financial state is in? A budget will solve that problem.
7. Pay off debt faster. Debt can become like a black hole. Unless you can get rid of it, it grows and just consumes everything you throw at it. With a budget, you'll be able to plan a strategy to pay off debt.
8. Know what needs to be cut. With a budget you'll see more clearly what you need to cut out of your budget to meet your needs. Without that budget, you'll live in a realm of hopeful anxiety that somehow, someway, it'll all get paid. That's not a very good strategy.
9. Do more for your family. There isn't a mother, father, wife, or husband who doesn't want to do more for his family. But just throwing money around that you don't have or that you can't afford is destructive. With a budget, you'll know what you can do, plan for things easier, and in the long run, do a lot more for them.
Let me illustrate all of this a bit better. Years ago, I decided our family needed another vehicle. I first looked at my budget, tweaked some of the numbers, and figured out exactly what I could and could not afford for a payment. I went to the dealership, found a car I liked, and basically told them that I could afford a $120.00 a month payment. They came back and told me, proudly, that my car payment would be $320.00 a month. I got up to leave.
The salesman said, "Wait. Where are you going?"
"I told you that I can only afford $120.00 a month. If you can't get it down that far, we have no deal," I replied.
Well they worked the numbers, reworked the numbers, fiddled with the price, talked to management, and eventually came up with a payment of $119.00 a month. Now a lot of that had to do with my high credit score-which is something that I also attribute to my budget.
These are just a few of the benefits of having a budget. Once you get one, stick to it. Don't vary from it, and follow it religiously.
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