That's what famed blogger Jon Acuff calls the TV show "International House Hunters."
If you are not familiar with Jon, he's the author... nay, GENIUS who writes the "Stuff Christians Like" blog. He recently became a part of financial guru Dave Ramsey's team. And if you are not familiar with Dave Ramsey then you need to be. Now. (I was pretty thrilled about this... It's like the Easter Bunny & Santa Claus teamed up...)
Jon recently wrote an article on Dave's site talking about something you commonly see on the show. (I've seen the same thing on their sister show "House Hunters.") If you've not seen the it, the basic premise is a house hunting couple is shown three homes base on their shopping criteria (budget, size, neighborhood, etc). Typically, one of the three houses is price beyond the budget and the couple struggle to say no to the stunning home with the big price tag. I mean, who wouldn't bigger, better, nicer; regardless of the price.
Christy and I went through this in our 10 year long house hunt. We looked at some incredible homes, but they were out of our price range. Some were way out of our price range. Those were easy to say no to. But some were *just* out of our range. Just a bit. Just a teeny little bit. Those were the hard ones to say no to... We'd start looking at the budget to see if we could make it work. Three square meals a day? We could shift that to three square meals a week. If fig leaf clothing was good enough for Adam & Eve, shouldn't it be good enough for us? Fred Flinstone came up with a 100% fuel efficient car that would cut our gasoline budget.
But, the truth was they were out of the budget. We had run the numbers. We knew what we could and couldn't afford for monthly payments. The hard part was the bank had approved us for more than what we could've realistically afforded. But we had to ignore that and stick to the plan.
And this concept applies to more than just buying a home. It really applies to all areas of spending. Studies have soon you spend less when you hit the grocery store with a shopping list and a specific amount of cash to spend.
Have you ever had a weekend with nothing planned? A friend calls and you head out to the movies. Despite the jumbo popcorn and bladder-buster soda, you're still hungry so you grab some Applebee's afterward. Then on Sunday, after church you grab some Chili's. Before you know it, you've spent $100 of unplanned money. In my world, that's a big chunk of change.
Is going to the movies and eating out wrong? Of course not. But it can be the death blow to your budget if you don't plan for it. Put it in the budget. If it doesn't fit in the budget, then you'll have to give up something somewhere to make it fit.
The biggest push back I get from people is "no one is going to tell ME what to do with MY money." And that is exactly right... It's your money. You can spend it however you want. That's the beauty of a budget. You write it. (You and your spouse if you are married...) You make the choices. You choose what you are going to spend on what. You are in COMPLETE control.
But, if you are wanting to spend more than you make, then you've got to make some hard choices. Either make more money or starting cutting stuff based on what is important to you. Your values are reflected in the budget you have set up.
A budget is the game plan where you tell your money where it'll go. It'll keep you from wondering where it went... Money is like a new puppy. You either train it where it'll go, or it's just going to go where ever it feels like and you've got little puddles all over the house. Yuck.
Have a plan. Stick to it. It's as simple as that.
Really, you should read Jon's article here... It's way better than what I write.