The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 25, 2012

Spending and saving

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Do you maintain a spending and saving plan? Think about it.

In the olden days, that was called budgeting. We did not wait to save until all the bills were paid, and we spent what we wanted, and then saved what was left over. There is never anything left over unless one plans for it. It is odd how we seem to use up all of a paycheck, whether it is large or small unless we plan to put some back for a rainy day.

When we were first married, we went to a seminar that told us how much we should spend on clothing, housing, food, entertainment, charity/donations, and incidentals. I wish I had that pie graph to use again. It gave such a simple way to at least see how our money was spent and used the best way.

It is not always possible to live by the “pie,” because emergencies do arise. But buying a new outfit or something for the house just because it was cute is not an emergency. A good sale is not an emergency. That is something else that needs to be planned in a budget.

Medical problems are emergencies, and need special arrangements. A death is a true emergency. There are always things unforeseen that do arise from time to time, and we need to be prepared as much as we can for them. Then we regroup and go to plan B. That emergency takes first place in our lives and our financial plans, which is the way we should think all the time.

I am sure I have told you the story of the $5 bill that Mother and Daddy put back for a medical emergency when they were first married with young babies to raise. During those lean years, they never had to resort to using that hard-earned money. It was later in years that Daddy remarked that they were so fortunate to have never needed to spend it ... because they had healthy children and always had enough money on hand to cover a medical or dental problem that arose.

When we were going through Daddy’s stuff we found that $5 bill. It is mine now, and I have it framed and in a place of honor, to remind me to always keep enough laid back to cover, or help cover, a true crisis.

Perhaps we put too much emphasis on things. I know I do. It is not that I am overcome with the wants; It is just so easy to see something and think I really NEED it for a brief moment. That is where budgets become necessary. The little rule in the back of my head says, “If it doesn’t take from some other piece of the pie, then it is OK to buy.”

While we are on the subject of spending ... I have never understood why a person can blame the credit card companies for their overspending. No one held a gun  to their head and told them to charge something on their credit card. I have never understood how and why someone can spend money they don’t have.

Budgeting and being frugal are so closely related. Even if a person has a huge bank account, it is wise to know where that money is being spent. Maybe they have a big bank account because they were frugal in the first place.

Ben Franklin said it best: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” We sometimes throw away more than we make and wonder why we have so little money. We have all heard of wives who can throw more money out the back door than the husband can bring in the front door, or vice versa. Something is wrong with this picture.  It takes the entire family working together to make a budget work effectively and sensibly. I cannot remember a time that I or Jim made a major purchase without consulting the other partner. Consequently, we have never had disagreements over money. We share the same bank account and bills with no problems.

When I cook, I utilize leftovers. If  necessary, I make “care packages” for neighbors or shut-ins rather than waste food. Keep an eye on the vegetable bin in the refrigerator to make sure and use up veggies and fruits before they shrivel up or mold. Mark all meats of expiration date. Do the same for breads and rolls and perishable foods. There are so many ways to save a penny here and a penny there, and it does add up.

Buying an iced drink or coffee daily on the way to work amounts to about $20 a week. Eating lunch out every day comes to an additional $25 or so. And at the end of  the week, what do we have to show for that money spent? I used to always take my lunch and even brought my own filled travel coffee mug to work every day. At the end of the week, while others had nothing to show for their money, I went antique shopping or ate a special meal out. I was probably healthier than most and even had something to show for my expenditures.

Another thing we should budget is our time. We know how long it takes us to get ready to go someplace, but we always allow a little time for a phone call or a broken shoelace. It always baffles me how some people always run late, when they have the same 24-hour days we do. It takes planning and wanting to succeed to learn how to be punctual, which is a way to show thoughtfulness.

We need to budget our valuable time and spend it wisely.

It seems so much cheaper to make cookies or snacks to keep on hand than it does to buy them all the time. Once a person gets used to it, it takes so little time to whip up something good like this:

Cookie Brittle

1 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

6 ounces chocolate chips

11⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup nuts, chopped a little

Mix all together. Pour into sprayed 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Press dough down. Bake in 350-degree oven about 25 minutes until light brown. While still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool a little before cutting, or cool completely and break into pieces.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.