Editorial - A budget may not be what you think it is
Quick quiz: What is a budget?
A) A restriction on how you spend your money.
B) A freedom that allows you to spend your money as you choose.
A recent poll on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website revealed that 57 percent of respondents answered, "A."
But, in fact, just the opposite is true.
The Village Family Services wrote about this misunderstanding of the purpose of a budget in its blog on the Echo Press website last week. The information is worth reprinting here to try and help those who are struggling financially.
It all starts with setting a budget - and knowing what that budget is designed to do.
"A budget actually provides the structure through which a person can be in charge of his or her spending, directing the dollars to their best use," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "Spending should be a reflection of a person's priorities, but without a plan, the priorities often get pushed aside in favor of the tyranny of the urgent."
The reluctance to construct a budget suggests that people may be afraid to face the financial facts, choosing instead to allow the most pressing need or want of the moment to make the decision for them. Instead, the NFCC reminds consumers that a spending plan includes the following benefits:
Creates a thoughtful awareness of spending.
Relieves financial stress.
Increases financial security.
Helps structure a plan for the future.
Allows planning for large purchases.
Assists in meeting financial goals.
Frees up money to designate for savings.
Uncovers money available to invest.
Allows preparation for emergencies.
Avoids late payments through scheduling timely payments.
Finds hidden money for debt repayment.
Potentially raises the credit score.
Instead of being restrictive, a budget often creates more money due to smart spending choices. If financial freedom is the goal, a spending plan is the tool that starts the process.
"It's a shame that budgeting has a negative connotation. Everyone needs a spending plan, but when times are tough, a budget is even more critical," continued Cunningham. "When every penny counts, it's important to count every penny."