I resisted establishing a household budget for many years. If we count all the years since college as my adult years, I lived without a budget for six of them. The notion of setting a budget felt restrictive to me. It felt like no fun at all. It felt like something that wasn’t necessary unless one found one’s self in a dire financial situation.
The problem with this mindset is fairly self explanatory: despite a healthy income, my husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck. Our credit card debt (which included spending from college, costs to move across the country, and contributing a bit to our wedding) wasn’t going down. In fact, our credit card balances were creeping slowly up. Every time Christmas rolled around, or the car needed a repair, it seemed justifiable to charge the expense. We “deserved” a nice lifestyle, right? We would pay for it “eventually,” when our income caught up. Or when the car was paid off. Or the student loans gone.
Ahhh… the downfall of every young professional enjoying city life and trying not to think about the future.
I’m not sure exactly why I completely changed my mindset. I really can’t say for certain what it was. I believe it was a combination of (1) the failing economy, (2) our desire to purchase a home, and (3) the seed of the thought that we may want to start a family in the next few years.
Whatever the reason for the change, reality hit home: we needed a budget.