When discussing budgeting with others I've found that most people see budgets as a fairly negative thing—a self- or spouse-imposed restraint that limits them. With this perception of budgets it's no wonder that most of us don't really create a monthly budget, or if we do, we're quick to admit that we struggle to "stick to it" and "stick with it." At least that's how I felt the first 27 times I tried budgeting.
I think Wikipedia's opening line on budgeting captures a better definition than what we usually hear:
A budget is a quantitative expression of a plan for a defined period of time...It expresses strategic plans of [organizations] in measurable terms.
Shifting my perception of budgeting from straight-jacket to strategy changed my life. I finally started to realize that my budget could free me from financial fretting, it could help me execute on a vision for my desired future, it could be a tool that I used to control my money.
Why I budget today
When I budget I'm hoping to get a few things out of it:
- I want to have conversations about money.
- I want to spend every dollar with intention.
- I want to minimize surprises in my finances.
But it's hard to get these three things out of budgeting, it requires checking records, recording expenses, long budgeting meetings, a great memory, and incredible consistency. Because of all these challenges it's easy to feel like budgeting is broken and just give up on it.
What's actually broken?
Budgeting isn't actually broken, but most of the tools for budgeting are. But I don't think budgeting tools need to be broken, that's why I'm setting out to design a better one.
I want to create a tool for budgeting that facilitates real conversations about money. In my experience some conversations are conceptual as we discuss our desired annual income from investments at age 60, while others are extremely tangible as we discuss the pair of Reebok shorts I want to buy this month. Both conversations are important and have the power to determine our success or failure. Both probably don't happen as often as they should.
I want to create a tool for budgeting that isn't about shuffling dollars between categories once a year and then hoping for the best. I need to be able to think about and plan around the actual dollars I'll be spending in a given month. And not just some of those dollars—every single one of them.
I want to create a tool for budgeting that helps me plan ahead. That means planning ahead for my retirement, for my annual insurance payment, and for that vacation to France in three years. Knowing there will rarely be a surprise that jeopardizes my ability to cash flow the expenses of any given month.
I used to think that Americans were a little overly obsessed with September 11th—I simply didn't get it.
I'm not sure when the change began, but somewhere in the last 6 years my heart softened, and I became empathetic to my new countrymen. I started to see the deep sacrifice and courage that has been offered up by the many heroes who have worked to make a difference.
To all those who gave their lives, to those who gave their sweat, and to those who shed countless tears—I salute you.
I know what it's like to learn from scratch. Just six years ago I knew pretty much nothing about how to create a website, but I worked hard, practiced a lot, and learned a ton of stuff along the way—including that (there's a better way to learn to code than just reading books and scouring the internet for tutorials.
You don't have to spend a ton of time or money to get started with the web. You just need the right information delivered in digestible bits, and someone to lean on when you get a bit flustered or stuck. Enter...
YOU can CODE Part I: Learn HTML + CSS Basics in One Week!
I've created a straightforward and brief getting started course for folks who want to learn how to create on the web. You can check out my announcement, and get a 25% discount code on my YOU can CODE website.
On the horizon I also have two progressive follow-up courses that I plan to release after the completion of the first course.
- YOU can CODE Part II: Create a Marketing Site in 3 Weeks
- YOU can CODE Part III: Create a Rails App in 4 Weeks
Checkout a sample of one of the brief lessons on HTML:
A couple days ago I posted a brief article on what I call Icon Stacks--an easy way to create complex multi-color icons using icon fonts. Today I wanted to share another interesting use for Icon Stacks that I came up with: Textured Icons.
So historically if you wanted to create a textured icon, you were most certainly relegated to using some sort of image for your icons. This often meant recreating existing icons in photoshop and then applying texture brushes, etc. to get the look you were going for. If you wanted to use these icons at different sizes you, you'd have to rinse and repeat for each individual size...lame.
I Want Scalable Texture
No worries, Icon Stacks can help with that too, just create a couple of texture icons and add them to your icon font:
Now pair those with your expected
.icon-base and you've just created a distressed or stamped feeling Icon Stack without having to write any extra code. This is where Icon Stacks start to yield dividends, when you can easily re-use the markup pattern to create interesting combinations.
<i class="icon-stack icon-size-64"> <i class="icon icon-smile icon-stack-base"></i> <i class="icon icon-texture-1"></i> </i>