Finding your way in the budgeting wilderness
Budgeting isn’t really that difficult. It’s all pretty simple stuff, really – as theory, that is. Keep track of your expenditure, plan ahead, and all that sort of thing.
But it all presupposes people follow that sort of logical reasoning process, and the longer that I do this work, it seems to me that logic and reason play a very, very small part in it all for very many people.
A former Prime Minister, known for his acerbic wit, once assailed a questioner with the question of ‘What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?’. When someone can’t meet the credit contract payments on the washing machine, unless they give up the Chriscos, you would think it was a similar no-brainer, but for many it’s a whole lot more complicated than that. They want both things, so desperately, that they become totally blind to the reality that one outcome may well be that they end up with neither.
Joan’s new client
When Joan first became an adviser, she was very, very unsure of herself, and would phone me almost every night to ask my advice and check she was going the right way. One day I told her I had a new client for her, a solo dad, with a middling amount of debt, and while he looked ok as a case study, I had doubts as to whether she could make him into a success story in real life, but she said she liked a challenge.
From the beginning they seemed to have rapport, which we talk about a lot in training, and Joan worked out a cashflow for Lance which, if he stuck to it, would get him out of the mess. Lance would say to her ‘That’s okay, you’re the adviser, and I’ll do what you advise. I want to get out of this mess.’ She would suggest priorities, and he would adopt them; Joan was the adviser and she knew what she was doing. He kept the agreements, paid things when they were due, and got out of debt. He was a dream client, but this is all true.
Joan was good, like that, she saw her job as getting her clients to see reality first, to escape the fantasy and see things as they really were.
Finding the switch
He was chuffed, she was chuffed, and so were we all. But there’s a bit of a message here, to all of us. It’s not just the numbers, and the bits of paper, it’s getting others to see life through the same eyes, the same window as us.
It’s finding the switch, if you like, that turns people on, and if we can find this we’ve got it made. It’s a bit of a big word, ‘rapport’ and it means a lot of things. It’s a big world out there, and someone has got hopelessly lost, and we are the rescuers. Somehow we’ve got to get into others’ minds, to make them see that we can suggest solutions, we can lead them out of the wild. We are far more than ‘advisers’ we are expert guides, trip leader, the St Bernard finding the victims swept away in the avalanche, and every time we can make you see us this way, then other dreams come true. Happy dreams to all.
Change what you can
If your expenses exceed your income, you have to act now. The longer you leave things the bigger the mess. Don’t use credit or cards to cover shortfalls, don’t leave bills unpaid. Change what you can change, before others force changes on you.
Life involves choices, and choices can be very hard, but that’s life and you can’t have it all. If your house is on fire, you can only take the most precious and most important belongings. Budgeting is a bit like that. You have to be brutal, wield a razor. And most important of all, trust and listen to your rescuer.