Friday, August 12, 2011

Budgeting for a Writer, part 3

Great!  I've made a budget, and it clearly fits into the savings I have!  I'll be fine...

Or will I?

I brushed on this before, but I just want to reiterate: Don't cut back just because you want to save money - or you'll never stick to your budget!  Instead, figure out how much you actually spend in fun each month.

Here's a hint, and it's almost counter-intuitive: give yourself a "fun allowance," and spend it!  Giving yourself $100 a month, and it's the 25th, and you've only spent $75?  Now a friend is asking if you want to go out lunch?  Of course you do!  Because, otherwise, it's like a fad diet: you starve yourself for weeks, only to attack the fridge in the middle of the night for an ice cream bonanza.  Cutting out too much encourages crazy splurges, so control the splurges by deciding ahead of time when, where, and how much you'll spend.

That doesn't mean you can't play the numbers a little.  Let's say that you want to go to a conference, and you plan on hitting the dealers' room for a beautiful new painting.  But it's outside your monthly budget, and you didn't plan for it in your original budget.  Spend less this month and roll the savings over.  Here's another hint: save, don't borrow.  Save up for something you want, and don't borrow from next month.  Borrowing puts you in "debt" to yourself, and it's far harder to want to pay off debt than it is to want to save up for something you really want.

This is your money.  It has to last.  So have fun - really.  It's called "sanity" money.

What's your sanctioned splurge?

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