Real Life. Real People.
Black's First Budget

What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!
From Chapter 5: Open Your Eyes Before Your Wallet

Red finally summoned up the courage to start looking at their financial situation and slowly starts working her way through a six step "Where Is Your Money Going" checklist. As she prepares to tackle Step 4: Develop A Realistic Budget, Red gets to break some surprising news to Black about a fond childhood memory.

OK. I'm ready to tackle Step 4. Is this something we can do via e-mail or do I need to come over and see how you do your budget?
Here is where I have to say, "Do as I say, not as I do," because I have not done a personal budget in years. But I can remember my first one.
You remember your first budget? You have a strange collection of fond memories!
It was when Mom put me on a clothing budget. She gave me an amount I could spend every year and wrote it on a big manila envelope. Every time I bought something, I would deduct that amount from the total and put the receipt in the envelope. I always knew how much was left in my budget, so I never had to ask if I could buy something. Mom was brilliant!
[Silence for 5 seconds, followed by a burst of laughter.] You're kidding, right?
No, it was brillant.
No, it was a punishment! It wasn't Mommy's way of teaching you about money; it was her way of controlling you. She was tired of you constantly wanting to buy clothing, and so she did it to shut you up.
Are you sure?
Very. Mommy told me the story many times. You loved expensive clothing, so she came up with a number that was less than she was willing to spend and told you that was your "budget." I only liked cheap stuff, so she never gave me a budget.
Then she did you a huge disservice, because whatever the ulterior motive, it was brilliant. Besides teaching me how to budget, it taught me to save for future purchases and motivated me to get part-time jobs in high school so I would have more money. Which all probably contributed towards making me feel comfortable with finances. I ended up being one of the few women in graduate school majoring in finance and spent the first half of my corporate career in financial planning and budgets.
Fine. You live a charmed life! You're the only person I know who could turn a punishment into a career.
But remember, I had no idea it was a punishment. Until today.
Which I find hilarious. Especially since everything is usually so damn obvious to you.