With Thanksgiving behind me and Christmas cheer beckoning me forward, it’s hard to think about the new year and the task of making an annual budget. You do have an annual budget, don’t you? I do—and I encourage you to use one, too.
Although I’m an organized person with a penchant for planning, I don’t get too excited at the prospect of making my annual budget. But I know I must. After all, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Goodreads attributes this to Benjamin Franklin.) Having a budget is just the first step. The key to success is to follow it. Click To Tweet
I keep good records of my spending throughout the year, so developing next year’s budget only takes me about thirty minutes. For people without a good understanding of where they spent their money, planning for next year will take a bit more work. So invest some time in December to gather needed information to make a budget for the coming year. You’ll need most of this for your taxes anyway, so you need to do it at some point.
Here are some thoughts about budgets:
- A budget is a guide, not a straightjacket.
- A budget lets us know when we can indulge ourselves a bit and how much; it also alerts us when extra spending is a bad idea.
- A budget reduces financial stress and removes a source of potential conflict.
- A budget urges moderation now, allowing for more freedom later.
- A budget is a plan that moves us towards financial contentment.
- A budget helps us to live within our means, to be financially responsible, and to plan for future needs.
- A budget is also biblical. See Luke 14:28-30.
To be of maximum use, our annual budgets need to be in place before the new year begins. For me, I usually I’ll wait until after Christmas to make my annual budget, and will be finished before New Year’s Day.
Of course having a budget is just the first step. The key to success is to follow it.
May you have a Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year…and a great budget to guide the way.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.