Friday, January 02, 2004

It’s an exciting time of the year here at the Weasel homestead. Having successfully weathered the financial upheaval of yet another holiday season, it’s time to [drumroll] Zero Out the Budget for the new year.

I will mentally gather all of our money together into one big virtual pile, from the lowliest stash of coins on our dresser to the dollar bills I had stashed in my desk drawer at work, all the way up to our savings and checking accounts. I will remove all earmarkings and intentions from all of our money. I will absolve it from any well-intentioned but ill-fated savings attempts. I will stop making the $50 that’s been languishing in the Disney World fund feel guilty about the -$2879 deficit in the Automotive Repair fund.

None of that matters anymore. This is a new year. All funds return to zero. For a brief few hours, all money belongs to all funds. We can, for a moment or so, entertain the idea of pouring all available money into the Furniture fund and going on a Queer-Eye-esque makeover spree for our house. We can imagine what it might be like to spend thousands of dollars each month on clothing and concerts instead of paying the mortgage or feeding the children.

Then when we finally settle in and start plugging realistic figures into the budget for the coming year, it should be depressing. But it isn’t. We’ve taken back the choice. We choose to spend $400 per month on groceries. We decide how much to put toward college funds, vacations, and new shoes. We’re reminded that things that don’t seem like choices, such as paying credit card bills, are choices when we decide to pay $5 more on each bill each month to pay them off just a tiny bit faster.

Now I can finally stop feeling guilty for “stealing” $4.55 per week from the grocery budget for a quick sushi hit. This year, there will be a Sushi fund. Maybe I will spend $80 per month on rainbow rolls instead of gas for my car…

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