As someone who is pretty frugal, I’ve never thought of budgeting as a necessary part of my life. After all, I do my banking online, I have direct deposit for my paychecks and automatic withdrawal for most of my bills, I have money in my savings account and in my Roth IRA, and I am careful not to spend too much money. In the words of women and men far more clever than I, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
And my finances aren’t broken. Sometimes I have the moment of panic when I realize that the twenty dollar bill I’m convinced should be in my wallet is no longer there, only to realize a few hours later that I spent it on my monthly gym membership a few days ago, but that hardly seems like a good enough reason to start monitoring my money habits. The last thing I need is something else to eat up my time. Plus, I don’t want to feel restricted. If I’ve only budgeted $75 in gas for the month, but I decide to take a trip out to visit family 30 minutes away that necessitates an extra $10, I don’t want to fret about the expense. I want to enjoy experiences…and budgeting seems like a bit of a buzz kill.
So what’s your budgeting philosophy? Should you do it all the time, or just when things aren’t looking good? Will you teach your kids to budget…or are there other methods of responsible financial management out there?