At one point in my life I had a collections account. The account was for an unpaid library fine that increased from a $25 fee to a $100 collection. After having a Hollywood Video membership for a couple years, I realized I was paying more in late fees than I was to rent movies.

Granted, this was all from at least ten years ago and, thankfully, I’ve greatly improved in responsibility. But I still know myself. I know that I work odd hours, that like most stereotypical creative types I get wrapped up in my project and forget about the time, and that I will always prioritize my friends and family over a late fee.

So I Netflix. I think I pay less with the monthly fee than I did with late fees, and I love the “Watch Instantly” feature that allows me to chill with ‘Murder, She Wrote’ when the whim strikes me. I factor ME, my habits, my choices, and my tendencies into my budget.

It’s not easy to do this; it’s not easy to look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, I’m not responsible enough to return movies/library books on time, so I need to find a new option.”

People forget to include their lives in their budgets. Even in the blogosphere, it’s almost impossible to model your budget after someone else’s. I once found a book that had this gorgeous comprehensive budget, right down to the penny; I turned it into a template and couldn’t figure out why my budget was off by a bit each month. Turns out HE (the author) didn’t need line items for birth control and feminine products.

What about you?

  • Are you a professional who needs a line item for business clothes?
  • Are you a student who should set aside funds for textbooks?
  • Have you set aside a sanity fund?(vacation, art supplies, babysitting)
  • Have you sat down and prioritized the large expenditures you know are coming?

If you factor you (or your family) into your budget, you can own the choices you make; you know your budget, your spending, and your life, works for you.

Update: Hubbin made me correct a typo. Doh!