This is the fifth post in a series of guest blogs throughout the month of May, with each writer trying out for a staff writer spot (or two) on Canadian Finance Blog. Once all the posts are online, I’ll publish a wrapup highlighting all the writers and their guest post. There are a lot of talented writers here, so it’s not going to be an easy choice! – Tom
I was browsing a bookstore the other day and picked up a decorating book by Ethan Allen. Good book as far as coffee table books go. Lots of pictures, ideas I wouldn’t have thought of myself, and in general, a good flow. But there was this one paragraph that made me so angry I slammed the book shut and left the store. Want to know what the paragraph said? I’ll tell you. It said “you must budget for decorating. Otherwise, a new couch will always seem out of reach.” That’s all it said, so you can see how my fit of rage may have been a bit out of line.
Why did I get so angry at that particular moment you ask? Well, it had to do with the fact that the week before, I had just started a “oh @#$%” fund for all the things that creep up that I don’t like. Things like parking tickets, car repairs, and dry cleaning (yes-dry cleaning). I had also decided to start a gift fund to save for the incredible amount of gifts I now buy for people. Baby showers, wedding showers, friends birthdays, friends kids birthdays, etc. These funds were started on top of my house emergency fund, RRSP’s, and regular savings, which meant I was up to 5 savings buckets! Let me be clear here, I don’t make a six figure salary…not even close. Like most people, I’m just trying to do the best I can. So you could see how I might be a little alarmed at this decorating book suggesting I now had to make an additional savings account so my home looked magazine worthy.
Insert me slamming the book shut and storming out of the bookstore. As I walked along the street in a huff, I realized something. Probably something you’ve already figured out. Budgeting is essential to get to your financial goals but the reason budgeting is great is because it tailor made for everyone. No two budgets are alike. If decorating isn’t your thing (like me), then there is no need or reason to budget for it. Plain and simple.
I’m never going to be one of those people who needs a new couch every few years. I like my furniture to stick around for a while and the latest and greatest just doesn’t appeal to me. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to you! And if it is, it should be in your budget! What’s important to me is saving for a rainy day (RRSP’s and emergency funds) dining out, gift giving and not being caught off guard by a stupid parking ticket. I have tempered my budget based on the kind of risk I am ready to take and how prepared I like to be for certain situations. Your budget might include rainy day savings, a clothing allowance, a magazine subscription and a vacation fund. My budget will never be your budget and vice versa. Perhaps, after reading this you will take Ethan Allen’s advice and set aside some money for decorating. I on the other hand will throw a blanket over my couch and call it new…and the folks at Ethan Allen will just have to be okay with that.
Author Bio: She’s So Savvy is an online destination for professionals who want to live large in the city on a small budget. With so many career-focused, city-dwelling friends, Tiffany noticed they still couldn’t make ends meet while living in Toronto. As a consummate bargain hunter, she knew from experience that the deals were out there, but couldn’t find a single source of information where they could all be found. With her advertising, sales, and web background, Tiffany started She’s So Savvy as a guide for people who want to live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget – the rest is savvy history!