Breaking problems down into manageable sized pieces is a familiar process for me. As a software engineer I do it every day. The first thing an engineer does when given a large and complex problem is to find a way to break it into smaller, less complicated components that can be completed independently. Once all the pieces are complete, they fit together forming a result that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The same can be applied to budgeting.
My wife recently mentioned that she was wanting some salon pampering, and asked if we could discuss working it into our budget. The total cost of the services she wanted was fairly expensive. To achieve her having all the services done in a single grand day at the salon, we would have to save our entire entertainment budget for several weeks. Since not spending a penny of our discretionary funds for that length of time would be very difficult, we needed to come up with a different course of action.
I applied my software engineer principles to my wife’s request.
Break it Into Pieces
My wife’s salon request was actually several different services including nails, hair, and a massage. Instead of totally depriving ourselves from any other fun activities requiring discretionary funds with the goal of having all the services done on the same day, we separated each service as a unique event to be done individually.
One Goal At A Time
My wife called the salon and scheduled one service per weekend for several weekends. Each individual service fit nicely into a single week’s discretionary spending with funds left over for us to do additional activities as well.
The Final Results
Instead of having one monster day of salon pampering, my wife will receive shorter but more frequent sessions. Having an appointment each weekend gave her something constantly to look forward to for several weeks.
Unless we win the lottery, we will always have to be selective with how we spend our money. Sometimes the things we want will not fit neatly into our budget. Sometimes we’ll just have to save up the traditional way. But there may times when we can channel our inner engineer and break that goal up into pieces, spreading out the spending across several budget cycles to achieve the goal.
What other things do you spend money on that could be broken into several smaller purchases across several budget cycles? Have you ever done this?
Brought to you courtesy of Brock