I have been planning on writing a post about budgeting almost since the beginning of this blog, and I guess today is the day.
I am trying to convince people to budget. And I do not have a budget. My bad! I am an accidental hypocrite.
But at least a self-aware hypocrite, my favorite kind of fraud.
I do not currently keep a budget because I do not have anything to plan with other than time (knock on wood) and savings. With an income, I will start to budget again.
As it is, every expense is one step closer to nothing, which has been very scary while I have been depressed. But as you get closer and closer to nothing to lose, why worry about it?
I do have an irrational fear of debt. It is irrational because debt is no longer a crime. Unless you intentionally write bad checks--that's fraud and it can send you to jail.
But I still have time coming in every day, and I don't even budget that! It's neglectful, that's what it is.
What most people don't get about budgeting is that it is totally about prioritizing. Some people think they prefer wine, women, and song for one week, and then penury for the rest of the month. Maybe they do.
Personally, I skip the women and the wine, and that leaves me with time for song. Plenty of time, now that YouTube makes music piracy irrelevant.
And I don't listen to that much music.
Technically, I do budget my time. It's something like this, but I'm hoping to mix it up a little in the future.
Clarica's Time Budget: 24 hours a day
1. Sleep. The thing you need the most should be at the top of the list. I used to love to sleep 10 hours or so every day, but I am way behind on staying awake now. I'm lucky to get 6-8 hours a night.
Remaining time: 16 hours
2. Food for the body. I take time to eat. Not a lot, as cooking seems like a hassle right now, and I don't snack anymore. 1 hour?
Remaining time: 15 hours
3. Work for the body. I haven't always considered this on my time budget, but for a couple years I have been focusing some attention to the matter. Eventually I decided to spend some time on it too. I'm not very good at remembering yet. Habits help. I like to walk for 1 hour, but I might consider more time or more effort, or both, in the future.
Remaining time: 14 hours
4. Maintenance for the body. There's some showering and stuff. Enough said? I'll give this two hours, which is a totally generous allotment. Really I'm just trying to make you all think that I have something important to do every day, and if I run out of time on important stuff before I get to the 'fun' stuff, my mission of misdirection is accomplished!
Remaining time: 12 hours
5. Fun stuff. Fooled you! Fun stuff is totally important and can not be left to the bottom of the list. Especially considering I can hardly make myself do ANYTHING. I have to WANT to do something. I love writing, and maybe I do an hour a day? I think more would be ok, but I'm not there. I ADORE the internet, and probably spend 8 hours a day trying to find the next shiny. I could probably survive with a little less, if something else shiny came along. ahem.
Remaining time: 3 hours
6. Food for the soul. This would be higher up on the list, because it is TOTALLY the most important thing on the list. Unfortunately, it is the hardest item to figure out. I contribute to some online volunteer work regularly, and maybe that counts. But I started it for the sake of sanity, and not because I thought I 'should' be contributing somehow. I don't know if volunteering actually is food for the soul, or not. I know some of this writing stuff is absolutely good for what ails me, but I try to compartmentalize it as Fun and not Love. Don't ask me why. Maybe I get an hour or more of Food for the Soul in a day? It's hard to tell.
Remaining time: 1 hour
7. Shoulds. This is the hardest thing for me to do. I generally like to have at least two reasons to do anything, because one is not enough! Luckily, I don't have to consciously identify more than one, if it is shiny enough, or my unconscious interest is big enough. If it is important that I do something I am not natively excited to do, anxiety will totally jump in to save the day, and get me either procrastinating more seriously, or taking care of business. 1 hour.
Whew! I'm all out of time for the day, and what a relief. I don't really worry about getting a job, though I definitely want one, because I have enough time, now that I've budgeted my priorities. A job falls under items 6 and 7, and hopefully 3 and 5 too. I don't have to re-allocate my investment of time at all.
And speaking of investment, a friend of mine was talking about money and what a crock it is. Money is a valuable tool, but it is also a powerful tool for self-delusion, because the act of spending it invests your purchase with 'added value'.
I didn't get the idea of added value until approximately a month ago, when I wanted to try a new special lotion to replace my very favorite special lotion which was discontinued ages ago. Magic lotion--it was non-greasy, and cured sun damage! I think it might even have made a great dietary supplement, but I never tasted it, so I don't know.
The new stuff isn't as good, PLUS I can not buy it in stores. There are no stores. Not even amazon. The maker does not do wholesale for retail distribution. The maker has cut out the middleman.
Everybody gives the middleman a lot of crap, but I am here to tell you, I like a freaking middle man. I want to go to one store with at least 20 things I want to buy, instead of twenty different owner-operated shops. The middleman is adding value.
What kind of markup is ethical for this service? Don't know, don't care, unless I open a tea shop/bakery (with excellent toasted cheese sandwiches!). Because then I will need to know not only what is ethical, but what is required to maintain my investment of time. And my investment of money.
And what if we spend our money on something a little bit more metaphorical? Something they call 'investments'? Do we invest our hearts and souls along with our money? Do we have a sense of proportion about it? Can we do so without committing fraud, either through practiced manipulation or just self-delusion?
I don't know. Occupy wall street all you want. It seems like a waste of time to me, but it does look like a lot of fun!
PS: If you want to budget your money, feel free to use the same categories above to help prioritize. Not all bills are created equal, and it is much easier to tell how much you value something when you think of almost everything that you buy as something that you actually want.