Thursday, January 12, 2012

Real-World Budgeting for Real People

I'm a pretty bad salesman. Which is funny because I have spent a large portion of my life selling. That I didn't starve to death can only be chalked up to the fact that the people who bought from me really wanted what I had to offer. They wanted it even after I asked, "Are you sure? It's a lot of money. Not to mention a really big commitment."

The thing is, affordability is an illusion based on perception, and that perception is molded by priority. So on a recent business trip when I spent $38 on a steak, which, due to the fact that the steakhouse forgot to include utensils in my take-out bag, was consumed with my bare hands on my bed at a Holiday Inn outside of Detroit, I had justified that expense because I had been thinking of eating steak for about three months. However, earlier that day, I had balked at the idea of spending $1.50 on a bottle of water (you don't wanna hear me get on that soapbox).

I find that a dollar as representative of a "unit of currency" is pretty meaningless. So meaningless that when I return from a foreign country where I've been asking myself the question, "2,000 Forint... ok, how many dollars is that?" that I will read a label and ask, "$3.75... ok, how many dollars is that?" Because cost is arbitrary. I'm not going to explain checks and balances and what our currency is based on (because I don't know...Is it gold?). But the fact is we measure cost based on our needs and wants (needs vs. wants: another completely different subject).

When I was saving for my impromptu seven-week trip to Southeast Asia and Korea, I measured everything in the cost of guesthouses and street food: "$13.99 for a bottle of wine!? That's three nights in Vietnam!" A few weeks ago when I was apartment shopping, I measured leases based on flights to India...

... and this is how you really budget
  • Not based on cost alone. 
  • Not based on need alone. 
  • And not based on want alone.

It's not that I'm an expert, per se. But I've been to more than 30 countries in the past couple of years, I once traveled over 1,000 miles on less than $11 US, I just ate a $38 steak on a hotel room bed, and I have $0 in credit card debt. I've picked up some tricks. And I plan to share them with you here. For a mere $29.99 a  month with a 24-month contract.

Just kidding! Just like or follow me on twitter, facebook, bloglovin, blogger or google reader and tell your friends. I promise we'll have a good time this year!


  1. Have you been talking to LARRY?!!

  2. I will give you $1.18 in change, three BRAND NEW bandaids and one shiny bottlecap with a really neat octopus on it for the secrets to the universe, and not one Qtip more. Fine, I'll throw in the Qtip.

  3. Erin, she'd have done it for just the bandaids.


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