Those people who know me well are aware I have a fairly serious shoe addiction. It's even on my business card. Melissa Browne: accountant, advisor, author, shoe addict.
I'm often asked how many pairs I own but I refuse to answer on the grounds that my husband might find out. Let's just say it's three figures. I know it's not an addiction because my bills are paid on time, I have savings in the bank, I'm contributing more to superannuation than I have to and I have an investment portfolio I am building so that by the time I'm 50 I have financial freedom. So, what I'm really admitting to is making sure there is enough in my budget for shoes.
For many people budgeting is a dirty word. The idea brings up concepts of restraint, rigidity and accountability, words that make many of us feel uncomfortable.
I believe the reason we're uncomfortable with that and with budgeting is because we are still clinging to the concept that we can have it all. The problem with having it all is that it is hurting many of us in our hip pocket. You see, I might talk about having a serious shoe addiction but there are choices I need to make if I want to support that. So in my budget there is no room for Foxtel, I take clothes to a local alteration place to be mended and I don't spend a ton of money going out every weekend. It's about choices.
I choose to spend more money on shoes, therefore I choose not to have Foxtel. If I wanted Foxtel, then I might choose not to have a cleaner. Or, if I wanted both, I might spend less on shoes. It's liberating because the carrot at the end of the budget is financial freedom and choices.
When faced with doing a budget for the first time, many people don't know where to start and I'm a great advocate for working out where you are now and where your money is going. This usually means keeping a diary for a month and recording everything you spend your money on. Kind of like a food diary for your finances. If you have a smartphone, there are hundreds of apps that will help you.
The reason for this exercise is because people generally don't know what they spend their money on each week. They simply know that at the end of their pay cycle, there's never much left over.
By keeping a diary, it forces you to confront what you're spending your money on, which means you can make some choices as to what you continue spending on and what you can cut back. See, there's that word again - choices.
Yes, you might think budgeting is a dirty word, but I encourage you to change your mindset and start thinking shoes instead of restraint and financial control instead of rigidity. Don't choose to have it all, choose instead the path to financial freedom.
Of course, if you're like me, you'll choose to walk that path in an amazing pair of shoes that, of course, you've budgeted for.
Melissa Browne is an accountant, advisor, author and shoe addict.