You, me and business: Budgets can bring freedom

Dana Schroeder

By DANA SCHROEDER

CEO, SCC Chamber

The other day I saw a pair of shoes that screamed out to me. As with most women, I am a shoe junkie. They were gorgeous shoes, but a tad on the pricey side.  My conscience kicked in immediately with the usual mantra: “They’re not in the budget.” I get so tired of my conscience doing that.

Who isn’t on a budget these days? Every household and every business should have one. But before you curse the budget for not allowing you to splurge, think about all of the things overspending costs you.

There are a lot of people out there who hate their jobs. If they had frugal spending habits, many of them could take a lesser paying job they felt passionate about.  Working for the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit, brings in considerably less than I was making working the corporate gig. But I am much happier with my downsized life.

My downsized life has much less clutter, because my 1,200 square-foot condo can’t hold all of the vases, knickknacks and other dust catchers I displayed in my 3,000 square-foot house. I have found discretionary income for vacations in not buying “stuff” I usually end up donating to a charity a couple of years later.

The savings account gets fuller as well. Emergencies come at us out of nowhere and obviously aren’t planned. But extra funds stashed away help soften the blow when they do hit.  For business owners, having emergency reserves is not just a smart idea, it is a must.

Staying on that budget also means less debt. There is a definite peace that comes from not having a car payment and being able to pay off the credit card balance every month. When the condo is paid off in five years, there won’t be a mortgage either.

For those who invest, it’s great when you can purchase stocks when they are undervalued instead of when you get a little extra cash. By working crossword puzzles in the paper or socializing at home instead of paying for a pricey dinner out and a movie, you can rack up enough to invest in some great funds. Likewise, companies that are frugal can take those extra funds and reinvest them in additional resources.

Don’t underestimate the power of that credit score.  People with great credit get better interest rates on loans. I know — loans equal debt — but sometimes you have to get a car loan or a mortgage.

At the end of the day, staying within the budget means more freedom.  Freedom to take a few days off. Freedom to retire early if you want. And of greatest importance, the freedom to relax and not being constantly anxious living paycheck to paycheck. It sounds like a contradiction to say adhering to strict limits means more freedom.  However, if I am frugal eating leftovers for lunch and turning off lights when I leave a room, I can purchase those killer shoes I wanted so badly.

Comments