I love having the right answer, but life teaches you there are a lot of gray areas.
Dealing with money is much more about strategy than it is math. You do need to have some math skills to deal with money. But making great decisions in life revolves around what you want.
Lessons About Planning
Planning ahead is more of an art than it is a science. No one can predict the future on a regular basis. You can be right once in a while, but you won’t be perfect forever. Assuming you can create a perfect plan is dangerous.
Plans often go differently than we expect. Some of the best planning tips come from sports and war. One of Mike Tyson’s famous quotes is, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The Prussian Field Marshal, Helmuth Graf von Moltke, is paraphrased as saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”
You still need to plan for the future, even with money. Most everyone hates the word, “budget.” We deal with budgets in business, in government, and in the military. You are probably so tired of hearing the word that you don’t make a budget at home.
Well, you should.
Why You’re Not Budgeting Right
The major budgeting mistake I see families make is assuming their plan is set in stone. It turns out when you (and your spouse) make the decisions, budgets are far more flexible.
Want more money for fun? Change the budget.
Want more money for retirement? Change the budget.
Want to pay off debt faster? Change the budget.
The Air Force is well known for the phrase, “Flexibility is the key to air power.” I am here to say that flexibility is also the key to money planning.
Failing to plan is also planning to fail. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote, “The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.” In other words, don’t ever stop planning ahead.
Why It Takes Practice
If you struggle to stick to a budget, I would like to welcome you to life. It happens to me and my wife every month. But we also have the habit of making quick decisions to get back on track.
My advice to you is to try budgeting again. It takes around three to four months to get used to the process.
I also suggest treating your plan as a “living document.” Change it when you need. You are the decision maker!