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What the federal budget and your household budget have in common

Marketplace Contributor Apr 10, 2013

Many a smart person have warned against comparing a family’s budget, or the budget of a business or corporation, to the federal budget.

That’s mainly because rules are different. Households can’t print money for instance, so no QE3 for you or me. But today’s unveiling by the White House of a proposed 2014 federal budget reveals that it does share at least one thing in common: politics.

From spending cuts to tax increases, political forces on both sides of the aisle have left their imprint on the proposed budget, and that’s one dynamic that many of us can relate to when it comes to balancing our own personal budget.

Budget politics in my house

In my house, for instance, politics plays out in the form of our family ledger, or “f#%*! ledger” as my wife calls it. In the age of Mint, we still use a paper ledger book to track each and every penny of income or expense that passes through our house. Make an ATM withdrawal? Log it in the ledger. Get a direct deposit paycheck? Log it in the ledger. Credit card purchase? That’s right, log it in the ledger.

As you might have concluded, my political view on the family budget is all about transparency: know what you have to spend and what you’re spending it on. I say it helps us make much better spending decisions and cuts down on frivilous purchases. I’ve even made a handy flow chart to refer to when faced with a tough spending decision. (Yes, my wife hates the flow chart, too.)

My kids, meanwhile, sit on the other side of the aisle. They let the discretionary spending run wild. My wife does most of the household shopping and is a firm protector of mandatory spending.

How does politics play into your household or businesses budget? We want to know, Tweet to us or post a comment below.



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