I have this notebook at home that I use for my family budget. It's nothing fancy really, just a steno pad with a red line down the center of the page, allowing me to put expenses on the left side and income on the right. I have personal finance software that I use to track spending and saving--but there is something cathartic about taking the time to write down on paper where all of the money my wife and I bring in goes each month. The pages are just the right size to get two months on each side--meaning my current page goes out to March.
Is it boring to have your life planned out like that? Sure. But it is also incredibly reassuring to know that everything is taken care of--and that cash is available in case something totally unforeseen comes up.
What I wonder is how many other people have a notebook at home? Did President Obama ever have a budget notebook? Did he ever sit down every day or every few days to plot the course of his finances? And passing that off to Michelle because he was too busy "organizing neighborhoods" doesn't count. Does Timothy Geithner track his own budget? Could he tell us how much is in his checking or savings account at any moment? I doubt they can--or else they wouldn't be telling us that we can "spend our way out of this recession." Would it surprise you to learn that only eight percent of those working at high levels of the Obama Administration have actually worked in the private sector? Just eight percent have experience balancing budgets that are not funded by taxpayers--and don't have that bottomless (they believe) pit from which to draw upon for more money.
How about Senator Harry Reid, Congressman Steve Kagen or any of the other lawmakers who tell us that we "can't afford not to have a public health care plan"? What do their notebooks look like? I can actually see Jim Doyle having a notebook at one time--but losing it years ago based on his current budgeting practices. And how many of our local leaders or school administrators have their personal finances in tight order? Finding places to cut in big public budgets is a lot easier if you have practice at home with finances that affect you directly.
I would love to give everyone I've mentioned in this "Two Cents" a notebook for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Festivus--but I'm afraid my notebook tells me there isn't that much money left in the "gift fund".