Thursday, November 19, 2009


Budgets are an artificial device whereby people attempt to restrain themselves from spending money. This is, of course, futile, because budgets are made up of numbers, and numbers on paper are completely unenforceable.

A real budget might include the presence of your sister who lives off student loans while attempting to get food for herself, husband, and child. There's no way you would continue on your goal towards a donut-a-day if she were there when you were trying to decide between chocolate and maple1.

Of course, I love budgets! I have lots of budgets! That is, I have three budgets.

Budget A is the normal budget, or the 'buy whatever you feel like' budget. This is the best budget. This is the budget that brought us the non-fitting suit, the unused DVD writer, and the video camera that has recorded all of twenty minutes.

Budget B is 'partial spending restrictions'. That means I can buy what I need, and a few things that I want. Things like shoes. Or a cowboy hat. Or a dozen donuts. That is, pretty much the same as Budget A. Except with warm fuzzies for having 'restrained' my spending.

Budget C is 'extreme spending restrictions'2. That means I can't buy anything. Ever. Except maybe food. Budget C is typically marked by a diet consisting of generic mac and cheese for special occasions3, and yellowish spread and rice for all other meals. I do not recommend this diet.

People say that you should write down budgets on big spreadsheets and keep track of where your money goes. Nah. That's just not worth it. I mean, what is money for, if not to be spent? Isn't that why they print it? Who are you to deny its proper use? Would you obtain a mattress and then stare at it from the floor? You bet you wouldn't. Especially if that mattress were full of money. You'd tear it open and get that money to spend away. That's why you should ignore budgets.

You can add an element of efficiency in your life by putting money to its proper use in a quick fashion. I've evolved to a point where I can spent money as fast as I earn it, and when I'm really on the top of my game, even faster! There's nothing quite like the feeling of looking at your credit card statement to see a number higher than the amount you owe in student loans. It's then when I feel like I need to slow down and enact some balance in life. Sadly, it's difficult to incur more student debts, or I'd be able to get those numbers equal and balanced.

Of course, if you're really serious about not spending money, you could try a tip I learned last night in Gatwick Airport. Upon deplaning and finding myself in need of a ticket to board a train, I also discovered I had lost all recollection of my pin number. This would constitute Budget D, or the broke budget.

For a man who prides himself on his memory and on his number skills4, this was disheartening. I scanned through my memory, and was able to remember the pin of every card I've had in my life except this one. After that fruitless attempt, I went through number sequences, trying to identify the correct one by process of elimination. I knew it wasn't a perfect sequence so that eliminates a dozen possibilities. I knew it didn't contain my favorite numbers 21, 23, 221, or 223, so we were down to about 9,978 possible combinations. I think it starts with a 6? Maybe? I did learn that night that my bank will allow five incorrect attempts before locking your card.

Luckily, I had enough change on me to get a ticket on the slow train5. Let's hope the new pin comes quickly, because this rice is going to get old pretty quick6.

1. Or possibly other family members. A cousin of mine, much more self-controlled, intelligent, and mature than me once instructed me on how I could eat breakfast for eight cents a day. I don't know about you, but I spend eight cents just thinking about breakfast. He will end up wealthy some day, and I'll have nothing but the memories of frostees, pastries, and ill-fitting clothing to console me.
2. The first time I entered extreme spending restrictions was during my freshman year in college. As luck would have it, that was also the same time I walked by a Wendy's. Every. Day. If it weren't for the budget, I would have had to enact extreme eating restrictions, as I surely would have gone inside and ordered frostees, instead of waddling up and licking the windows, full of people eating deliciousness.
3. As an Economics instructor once said: "it's a sad day when you can't afford real mac and cheese".
4. The best pickup scenario in my life involved me asking for her number, then when she asked if I had a pen, I shrugged and said nothing but, "meh, photographic memory". She was obviously so impressed by this that she was intimidated during our eventual date, which is why she was next to silent, and pretty much ran away when I dropped her off.
5. Insert that joke about trains being brains and you got a slow one. Yeah, yeah, I know that one, no need to remind me.
6. Don't worry, I'm just joking around. I still have my US cards, which sometimes work (apparently not in airports, though).

1 comment:

Diana said...

Oh what a sad day when you can't afford real mac and cheese. I think I feel inspired to spend some money.