You Need a Budget
In an attempt to reorganize my life almost-post-divorce and get expenses under control, I've gotten back into hardcore budgeting, which is something I let fall by the wayside for a long time with a two-income household (for many reasons that are really a moot point at this juncture).
A while ago, I saw a blog post go by from Liore about this neat program called You Need a Budget, or YNAB for short. It plays to the "envelope method" (though, complete disclosure, I do "borrow" from envelopes to cover other envelopes, which is supposedly a no-no to the envelope method theory) of budgeting but utilizes a sleek and effective interface that has made budgeting easy and enjoyable. Something that most folks would call an oxymoron, I'm sure.
Something I've done in my budget is to add "Gimme" items under the "Just For Fun" section of my budget. What are "Gimme" items? You know, when you make that gesture...
The "Gimme" List is Born
We've all been there. That thing catches your interest, and you have to have it... now! However, while I am not too financially strained, things are tougher to manage, and being able to make impulse purchases have become much less, well, impulsive.
That's where my "Gimme" list comes in. When I get excited about something (a trip, a convention, a game, etc.), I add it as an item in my budget, list the price next to it, and then allow myself to move money around for it.
Sometimes, that means it's going to take a few checks to cover it. Sometimes it means I can get it right away based on how my priorities change. The nice thing about using YNAB is that I can drag and drop the items to shuffle them around.
For instance, I recently discovered that the International Pole Convention would be in Atlanta this year. Pole dancing has become something that has consumed me. While the topic and how it's changed me and my outlook on sports/myself/life is something for a different post, it is something that I forsee a great deal of in my future.
A full weekend pass (Thursday night through Sunday) is $175. There are also pay-only panels that are available, and there are two that I desperately want to attend because of the teacher, and the content. While I do not know the cost of the panels themselves, I estimate that they can't be more than $50 each, so that's another $100 I need to save up.
This gets bumped up in my budget (because I really want to get into those panels!), replacing other items such as purchasing a pole, purchasing a new couch and papasan chair, purchasing a 3DS and PS4, and more. Having a "Gimme" list helps me prioritize how I want to spend that extra money, without feeling overwhelmed at trying to budget it in. And still allowing me enough freedom to move things around and decide what cool neat thing I want next.