Meg wants a bud­get for all rea­sons

IT’S MID-JAN­UARY, SO YOU’RE RIGHT TO AS­SUME EV­ERY RES­O­LU­TION THE MASONATOR AND I MADE ON A FRIEND’S BAL­CONY THIS NEW YEAR’S EVE HAS BEEN ABAN­DONED.

GQ (Australia) - - THE SOURCE - ALAN BEN­NETT

It’s true. We haven’t once tried stand-up pad­dle­board­ing. No one is eat­ing more fsh, we’re al­ready three be­hind on our book-a-week chal­lenge and the com­bined house­hold BMI re­mains at 19.1. But, im­pres­sively, our joint res­o­lu­tion to be­come ‘The Shit’ with money is hold­ing. Not just to stop be­ing slightly crap with it – that was 2015 – but to be­come the Ja­son-bourne-ma­sons of per­sonal fnance. You know, highly trained, rig­or­ously dis­ci­plined silent-fs­calas­sas­sins, who know the li­cence plate num­bers of all six cars out­side, that our wait­ress is left-handed and that the guy sit­ting up at the counter weighs 98kg and can han­dle him­self. Ex­cept, the mon­e­tary version. It’s sur­pris­ing, when you start ask­ing around – prefer­ably dur­ing the fre­works with a Cham­pagne in each hand and a pair of ‘hi­lar­i­ous’ Year 2000 nov­elty glasses perched on your nos­trils – that most suc­cess­ful, oth­er­wise in­tel­li­gent peo­ple would rate them­selves be­tween ‘Ok-ish’ and ‘shock­ing’ with fnances. Only one or two claim to be nail­ing it (hon­estly, if you’re one of them and enjoy noth­ing more than en­ter­ing lunch re­ceipts into a cus­tom spread­sheet and rec­on­cil­ing trans­port cards at day’s end, then turn straight to the cars sec­tion). So now, I’m ob­sessed with work­ing out why. Were we never taught? Did our (step)dads forget to sit us down and ex­plain that credit cards are the devil’s work and not to pay for Euro­pean hol­i­days? Did we con­vince our­selves that our twen­ties are really about hav­ing fun, and saving is for when you’re old – like, 30 or some­thing. But when 30 came, we ac­ci­den­tally leased a Cayenne and the re­turn on that in­vest­ment hasn’t been what we’d hoped. And did no one flatly men­tion the only way you’ll ever own a house in this puni­tive mar­ket is to say no to ev­ery­thing fun for a long time, while adopt­ing the diet of an 18th-cen­tury Chi­nese peas­ant farmer? Into the late thir­ties and still, for a lot of us, money re­mains a slightly messy, tail-chas­ing, di­rec­tion­less pay­day-to-pay­day sit­u­a­tion. Even when the pay­day gets to be quite stonk­ing, out of habit it’s run out three days be­fore the next one and we’re left hunt­ing ’round in the Cayenne’s coin tray for cof­fee money. And no bud­get app, spend­ing tracker, spread­sheet or fnan­cial ad­vi­sor paid silly-money to de­velop a sav­ings plan seems able to solve the high-end hand-to-mouth sit­u­a­tion we’ve got go­ing. Well, guess what? Only three weeks into 2016, I’ve al­ready fgured out part of the rea­son. And I’m offering it for free. The cat­e­gories are bro­ken. Ev­ery bud­get app I’ve ever tried and failed at cov­ers off the main ones: rent or mort­gage util­i­ties, food… snore. But I’m yet to fnd one that puts suf­f­cient em­pha­sis on the real ex­penses that don’t ft into any reg­u­lar cat­e­gory. Like fuck-ups. No one ever sug­gests putting money aside for fnes, for­got­ten PAYG, rear-enders, im­pulse jet ski pur­chases, knee re­con­struc­tions, evenings out that got silly, and night-time grind plates you were talked into by the adult or­tho­don­tist and wore twice, be­cause who wants to re­sem­ble an NHL goalie in bed? Fuck-ups are ex­pen­sive and real and un­re­lent­ing. So let’s stop pre­tend­ing we’re bet­ter than that and sim­ply set aside how­ever much a month we need to pay for our un­be­liev­ably cack-handed mon­ey­botch­ings in cash. The sec­ond miss­ing cat­e­gory is Manda­tory Shit. You’re think­ing … like hous­ing? No. I mean other peo­ple’s des­ti­na­tion wed­dings. Adult­hood turns out to be full of Manda­tory Shit, and though most of us never think to pre­pare by putting $20 a month into our ‘va­ca­tion bucket’, the time will come when a friend de­mands you spend $7000 get­ting to his four-day wed­ding in Bo­ra­cay. There’s no way around it, only ac­cep­tance and for­ward-plan­ning that starts to­day. Also, Manda­tory Shit al­most al­ways re­quires Spe­cial Gear, for which you may want to con­sider rais­ing a sub-cat­e­gory. Tuxes, wet­suits, high-spec, sin­gle-use moun­tain bikes for a mate’s 40th week­end – pe­ri­od­i­cally you’ll be re­quired to splash out on kit that doesn’t ft into the Cloth­ing Al­lowance. Ac­cept it, and throw a ten­ner a month straight at it. Then, fnally, if you’re run­ning a joint ac­count, you’re go­ing to need a cat­e­gory for Your Part­ner’s Pain. Their Weird Thing, The Glitch in Your Beloved’s Ma­trix, call it what you will, but it goes to­wards any spend­ing born out of your spouse’s munted emo­tional land­scape. You may not understand why she needs to be un­nat­u­rally and ex­pen­sively blonde, or why he needs seven surf­boards to feel safe, but it is what it is. A pineap­ple a month goes direct to Part­ner’s Pain, and never ask where it ends up. Un­less you’ve been putting a lit­tle bit away each month in a Di­vorce cat­e­gory. I would de­velop the app my­self, since I’d make a mint from it and my Cayenne coin tray would run­neth over. But I have six nov­els to read, and 47 fsh din­ners to eat this week, and that’s not easy on a pad­dle­board. n

54

TO ANY­ONE WHO’LL LIS­TEN, I’M CLAIM­ING TO HAVE ‘DIS­COV­ERED’ THE PLAY­WRIGHT AND NOV­EL­IST WHO’S BEEN FA­MOUS FOR 50 YEARS. BUT JAMES COR­DEN AND MAG­GIE SMITH HAVE JUST WRAPPED HIS LADY IN THE

VAN, ABOUT THE HOME­LESS DAME HE LET PARK IN HIS NORTH LON­DON DRIVE­WAY FOR A DECADE. GET IN NOW, BE­FORE THE FILM COMES OUT AND THE PLEBS PRE­TEND THEY WERE AL­WAYS FANS.

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