Friday, January 06, 2006

Changing The Budget

Yet another change that we're facing in 2006 is with the household budget. My company is switching from paying us twice a month from paying us every two weeks.

Most of the employees are excited about it. The way they see it, it means they're getting paid more often, which, in their minds, equates with being paid more. Plus, the faster they get their money, the faster they can pay those bills.

Only when you stop and think about it, it really isn't so hot. Because if you're not careful, and you get really excited about that paycheck you get on the 20th, and go buy stuff with it, you're forgetting that you won't be paid again until the 4th--the day your landlord considers your rent late.

So we've had to mark the calendar for the entire year--what days we're getting paid, and whether that paycheck needs to go to rent or bills.

Of course, getting paid more frequently also doesn't really mean getting paid more. It actually means getting paid less. This is because you're getting 26 paychecks a year instead of 24--in other words, your paycheck is being spread thinner.

So it's great the two months you get three paychecks, but in the meantime, it's like getting a monthly pay cut, because the two paychecks you get are smaller in order to pay for the two extra checks on the bonus months.

It's like what your mom had to do to your dinner when those unexpected guests go up to get the food to go around.

This means we get to change the budget to get by on less. And it means we get to change the budget to get by differently because of the different way the paychecks fall.

Not only that, but as I mentioned before, a lot of the difficulties we had the last half of the year came from our having been a bit overzealous in our budget. In our anxiousness to pay down debt, we (well, mainly I) failed to adequately budget for those oh-so-slightly important things like car repairs and clothes and such.

The take-home lesson from that: When you make your budget, keep it real.

At least if you want to be able to stick with it.

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