I LOVE rules. I have always loved rules. As a child, I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of playing a game unless everyone involved had a clear understanding of the rules of the game.
Rules gave me boundaries at home and at school. Rules gave me the comfort of knowing what I could do, when I could do it and how it was to be done. One rule my parents taught me once I got my first job was to never spend more than you make. This was a rule, so it stuck with me.
Even today, I love rules and take pride in following them as I view it as a personal success. Especially that valuable rule I learned almost 30 years ago! I can only assume this is part of why I enjoy budgeting so much!! I have dollars to allocate every month. Each dollar has a job to do. By assigning each of those dollars to a job and then going through the month keeping the spending within the dollar amount allotted, I am obeying my own financial rules. By knowing which sinking funds for upcoming purchases need to be a priority, and making sure those are met each month, I am obeying my own financial rules. By staying within the boundaries of reasonable spending on reasonable things, I am obeying my own financial rules.
Now this isn’t to say sometimes I don’t need to bend my own rules. A budget needs to allow for flexibility, and when priorities change unexpectedly I can go with the flow. But by having the guidance of the numbers within my budget to keep things on track, this allows me to align my spending with what is most important to me and my family, while still following the rules of not spending more than we make.
Now admittedly, sometimes following the rules isn’t the end all, and I have missed out on some pretty incredible opportunities. For example, I find water to be completely unpredictable. There aren’t many rules that the ocean has to follow. So on my honeymoon I watched from the boat as my husband went scuba diving and swam with all sorts of tropical, beautiful, gentle fish. I let my need for rules get in the way of an incredible experience and leave me with nothing but a nasty sunburn.
And while being a rule follower has served me well financially, I sometimes envy the rule breakers because they are the ones that do immensely fun and crazy things like arriving at the airport LESS than 2 hours in advance, staying up late on a school night to go see a new movie, or making the most of a meal by eating dessert first!