Budget Friendly

Many Americans don't know what it means to live within your means.

As we all know, the state of the national economy has dominated the news. For a while there, it looked like America might have to crash on China’s couch for a month or two. Like a number of countries these days, the United States spends more than it makes. And, I guess because Uncle Sam is sort of a role model, many American citizens have the same problem. And let’s face it, it’s pretty difficult to live within your means. But there are ways to make it easier.

One way is the ability to anticipate change. Those that do can handle adverse situations much better. All of us know that change is inevitable, yet some of us always seem surprised when it happens. Granted, there are some things that are unforeseeable. Just a short time ago, I don’t think anybody in the state of Washington envisioned being able to smoke weed at a gay wedding. In fact, an even more unlikely scenario forced me to reconsider my entire financial portfolio. Right before Thanksgiving, I finally structured what I felt was a solid retirement plan. I thought I was set for the rest of my life. But who among us could have anticipated the Mayans being wrong about the apocalypse. So now that it appears I’m going to be around a little longer, it’s really going to be a struggle to make ends meet.

Another way to make it easier is to have a partner. What you’ve always heard is true. Two can live cheaper than one. Of course, most of the arguments a couple have are over money. And sure, fighting with your significant other is bad, but it’s all worth it when you get that sweet make-up handshake. Right? Take it from me, there is no advantage to being single. Well, maybe one. You never have to erase your browser history.

Planning ahead can also help. For instance, those of you that have young children should start setting aside a fixed amount of your income every month. If you’re lucky, you’ll have just enough money to refurbish the basement for your child to live after receiving that $250,000 college education. Plan on a fairly long stay, especially if their degree is in fine arts or gender studies.

The volatility of energy prices can also affect the bottom line. Of course if we are eventually able to convert all our vehicles to natural gas, some of us will finally realize our dream of tooling around town in a two-story Hummer. But until that happens, we might need to consider a more economical mode of transportation.
Now although there are some automobiles that get well over 40 miles to the gallon, you need to consider this. For just $30 more, you can get a mountain bike instead of a Kia.

Anyway, for our readers’ benefit, I’ve decided to include a brief questionnaire to help determine whether or not someone is living within his or her budget. Some of you may not even need to participate, but there is a quick way to find out. Pull out a photo ID and see if your last name is Gates. No? That’s a shame. How about Buffett? Still no? Check again to be sure. What about Bass? Aw, I’m sorry. Looks like you probably need to answer the following questions.

1) Do you keep good track of all your financial transactions? If so, list all your income, savings and expenses for the past year.

2) Can you accurately estimate your income and expenses for next year?
If the answer is “yes,” proceed on to question No. 3.

3) Can you afford a computer-based financial program to help you track all your income and expenses? If the answer is “no,” you are in bad shape.
What you really need to do is quit wasting time answering silly questionnaires and start being productive.
Hey, I’m just trying to help.