Budgeting 101 – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Call me naive. Call me clueless. Call me privileged. Call me anything. Just don’t call me a financial whizz. That I am certainly not. So when I was handed the monthly household bill paying and budgeting task, I wanted to bury my head in the ground. Permanently.
Still, life goes on and items must be purchased and paid for. I’m getting ready for my own learning experience with Budgeting 101. The other day I was watching a cute Tween sitcom with my son. He exclaimed that the show was named after a character in the show with “101” after the name. He astutely told me that the reason the show had “101” in the title was because the character’s locker number was “101.” I validated his wise observation, then added that when he takes courses in school as he gets older, the courses identified as introductory courses will have the numbers “101” after them. For example, Chemistry 101, English History 101, etc. He dismissed my explanation because he felt his reasoning was more appropriate for the sitcom. So much for “Mom Enlightenment 101.”
I chose “Budgeting 101” as the title for this blog because I feel as if I am learning something completely new and foreign. The last time I budgeted, some twenty years ago, I used my checkbook and it’s register and called it “budgeting.” “Quicken” software was very new to the scene. As soon as I married, my husband wanted to take over the finances since he had to separate out his personal and business finances simultaneously. I was thrilled as pie. One less thing I had to complicate my life with.
Over the years, my husband and I never sat down and formally outlined a household budget. If spending was getting a little high, my husband simply asked me to tailor back a bit. Otherwise, I couldn’t tell you what our water, electric, auto insurance, even mortgage bills were each month. I was beyond clueless…until now.
Had I known years ago what I know now, I would have been far more frugal. I was simply blown away at how much it costs to run a home. Factor in money to set aside for maintenance and repairs. The numbers grow exponentially. I am curious why my husband never discussed any of this with me. I know his business was doing well enough to cover all of these expenses. But as his wife, I really should have been privy to this information. Then again, I never asked either. I figured if there were ever a financial problem, my husband would come to me and we would sort it out. I guess there never was a need on either of our behalves. Until now.
After the initial shock of the household expenses wore off, I consulted with my Accountant regarding a simple budgeting software program he could advise I use. I chose one that he uses in his office, but scaled down for home use. I like it already. It accessed all of my bank accounts with specialized encryption to ward off hackers. It will also send me little reminders for bill paying, or will pay bills automatically if I set it up to do so. Love that. It is also very user-friendly with little “help” boxes that “guide” you through the budgeting “maze.” Household budgeting has come a long way in twenty years!
Now…about making the ends meet come months end. That will be my next challenge. Interestingly, every single woman I know: Married, Working, Stay-at-Home Moms and, of course, Single Moms/Women, ALL do the household finances. Every single one. Makes me wonder why I was the “odd woman out.” I know my husband had his reasons. Yet even the busiest of women still take care of their household finances. I wonder…is this a female thing? Something that woman are either “better” at or have more “time” to dedicate to? I’m sure each of these woman has good reason to continue maintaining this task for their family’s benefit.
I would like to hear from our readers. Who takes care of the bulk financial responsibility in your home? Was it discussed or did someone in the family assume the role? How does it make you feel? How important is it to know your family’s financial situation?
I am learning a lot in this “crash course” of Budgeting 101. Something I really should have learned quite a long time ago. But the time is always ripe for learning new things. I think I’ll pass for now on educating my son on the term, “crash course.” He has plenty of time to figure that one out on his own!