The Plasma Generation may find this a bit hard to believe, but you can't have it all. Despite what mummy and daddy have been saying all these years, you can't have everything you want "as long as you want it enough" unless you have about as much ambition as a soggy sock.
So for those of us who aren't socks, life is about priorities. To juggle your priorities successfully you're going to have to do something hideously awful, something so terrible that all of us, even those with rather pronounced OCD tendencies (not me, no never), have nightmares about.
You're going to have to write a budget. No, accountants are not an exception to this. Most accountants I know derive devious pleasure from analysing someone else's accounts, but when it comes to their own they have receipts stuffed in the bottom drawer, in the fridge crisper and stuck behind their horn-rims.
The only good budget is an honest budget. You know you do it - the almost subconscious rounding down when it comes to adding up all the fun little optional extras we spend our money on. "I usually buy 3 magazines a month at $8 each .. but last month they were all rubbish so I only bought one, so therefore on average I spend about erm... yes, thats um.. $5 a month". If your budget comes out with heaps of surplus then you're either extraordinarily rich or a big fat liar. A quick check in the bank account, garage and wardrobe will soon sort that one out.
A handy tip for you - nothing is essential, you can cut down almost anything. If you swap the family's second car for a bus pass and a Hermes croc Kelly then way to go you! You're saving the environment and probably saving some kid from certain snip snappy death in a dam in Darwin at the same time!
Once you've got your budget together, the hard bit is sticking to it. To make it easier, pay yourself (into a savings account that accrues interest or offsets your mortgage) first. Then buy shoes and caviar. If you have anything left then you might want to consider opening some of those bills.
UPDATE: For practical tips on writing a budget, take a look at the Winning the War on Debt series over at Improve the Quality.
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