The Dog Days of Budgeting
Posted by RycePapers | Filed under RycePapers
Being quasi-retired gives me time to be in my garden, but it’s now June and I need to put last month’s finances to bed by adding up my budget numbers. EEEEEKKK!! Sorry, I meant to write ‘just as I expected’. With five months of comparable figures of real money spent, this helps me project my costs for the entire year and make any adjustments. Because I don’t have a crystal ball, I begin the year by estimating a budget and making a plan. I think it was strategic planning genius Henry Mintzberg who said: The reason you make plans is so you have something to deviate from. Get ready for some major deviation!
I looked at my biggest expense for the month. It is Pongo my Golden Retriever who will be 12 this month. It is heartworm season and a couple of his medications needed refilling plus kibble and cans and the result is $565 with the running total for five months of $2327. If you just thought ‘holy crap’ I can understand your reaction. My doctor told me that the majority of money spent on human health care tends to happen in the older years and it is the same with dogs. I lost my German shepherd girl a year ago, just shy of her 13th birthday. My total pet bill last year was $8020.
After you’ve applied the cardiac paddles and returned to reading this blog, let me explain. My dogs are my passion. Pongo means I don’t need a gym membership to keep my weight steady (we walk), a security system (he barks), satellite TV (he entertains me), medication (he is very funny and keeps my happy hormones firing), or a big clothing budget (he keeps me occupied so I don’t troll the shopping malls out of boredom).
The Greeks didn’t write obituaries, instead when a man died (and I hope for women, too) they asked: was he a man of passion? We all need our passion. Maybe you golf, scrapbook, motorcycle, enjoy theater, make charitable donations, travel, decorate, take your kids or grandkids on adventures or whatever your thing is. It’s what makes your life purposeful and brings you enjoyment.
For those of us 50+ we know we are ‘playing the back nine’ as golfers would say. It’s a different game than the front nine. Once you’ve taken care of the basics there is a reward: you get to choose where to spend your remaining money. I choose my furry friend Pongo. What I don’t choose is clothing. I spent $875 on clothes last year. No one ever calls me a fashionista and that’s okay because it’s not my passion. I would rather spend my do-re-me at the vet’s. Dr. Kathleen and crew do a fabulous job of loving the pets under their care and I think they are worth every penny.
Becoming an adult means we become responsible for our choices. No longer can we blame our parents, our peers, our society, or as Flip Wilson used to say ‘the devil made me do it.’ Whatever passion you choose, you get the full benefit of the money spent and shoulder the full consequences of that choosing. Choose means picking one over another. As my mother says, figure out what you want and then decide what you are willing to sacrifice to get it. The root of the word ‘decide’ means to cut off. Some folks have obviously been unwilling to cut off some spending since I read recently that nearly 2/3rds of those in the 50-64 age bracket in Canada are in debt and carry on average $91,000 in debt. Bow WOW as Pongo would say. I’ll write more about that debt next week, but right now I’m going out for our afternoon walk, or as I like to think of it, taking time out to tone up my thighs.
That is what’s on my mind today, what do you think?