Thursday, September 16, 2010

Watching Your Wallet

Budgets and Money

I was asked by the South Brunswick Post for a position statement and comments on the budget in South Brunswick.  Now, I'll never claim to be an expert at handling money, nor an expert at municipal budgets, but something I said in those comments stuck with me that I'd like to share.

I got myself into a bit of a predicament with my own credit cards. The problem, as I see it, is that credit cards give consumers a false sense of just how much money they actually do have to spend.  I learned it's much better to count the money in your wallet first before you go out to buy.

Government needs to start thinking that way as well.  Of course there are always times when the credit card has its purpose, as do loans and financing.  But how many times do governments borrow and spend for things that just might not be a necessity?

It's too easy to lose sight of the real value of a dollar when you are dealing in thousands of dollars every day.  Suddenly, even a hundred dollars here or there seems like pocket change easily spent and just as easily owed.  I can only imagine how it must be for legislators in Washington who deal in millions and even billions of dollars.

But the fact it, one hundred dollars does matter and so does a dollar here and there. Go to the cash register a dollar short in most any store and see how far you get with your purchase.  We need to start thinking in dollars and cents, or dollars and sense about spending. Count the money in the wallet and then decide what we actually can purchase.

Realistically, we need to start figuring out how much money we have to spend on what we need before we start making a list of things we want that we actually can't afford.  It might hurt, but paying cash instead of pulling out that credit card isn't such a bad idea at all.

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