The scariest word in the English language

Euros. Via Flickr user MarcelGermain.

Euros. Via Flickr user MarcelGermain.

Does the word “budget” give you the chills?

Financial planning? Saving future income?

I know it scares many of my 20-something peers. I understand. In college, many have to spend almost every penny they make on tuition, rent, and living expenses. Saving money seems like an illusion.

No matter how much I think budget planning should be a required class in high school or college, it isn’t. At the University of Georgia, there was one such course per semester. One budget planning class for the 35,000-strong student body. Those numbers seem lopsided. I didn’t even take the class because I couldn’t fit in the time slot with my schedule, and you have to be a senior to take it.

So if school doesn’t teach us how to budget, the burden falls on our (usually equally clueless) peers, our family, and our own initiative to learn. These three forces often fail to teach us the simple concept of saving money — that when you get a paycheck, you should put away as much of it as you can instead of spending it.

I can think of friends and acquaintances around my age who seem to have no concept of saving. There are people who buy sports cars, high-end electronics, and clothes instead of focusing on paying bills, buying a house (in the future), and putting enough away for retirement (someday).

Admittedly, those aren’t as sexy or fun-sounding as a sports car, but they’re better investments. A house doesn’t depreciate in value the minute you live in it.

I want to teach what I know about the basics of budgeting. Saving money sounds daunting and complicated, and I’m not an expert financial planner, but it’s necessary. You need to know how much you have and how much you can afford to give away.

Plus, I prefer the peace of mind of paid bills to the opulence of a $300 purse.

Budgeting lesson #1 will be posted shortly.

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