It was financial blogger Preet Banerjee who told me in a recent interview that if there is one money word every Canadian should understand thoroughly it's "budgeting." I had a hunch that the word "budget" has been around for a long time so I headed to the Koerner Library at my alma mater, UBC, and hefted a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary off the shelf. It turns out I was right...and what a history the word has. From leather pouches dangling around men's hips to proclamations of governmental accountability in British Parliament to womanly advice from Good Housekeeping magazine, "budget," and its meaning, has been around the block.
1432 A budget refers to a pouch, bag or wallet made of leather.
1618 Budget becomes a verb that describes the act of storing up money or another resource for a particular purpose or result.
1773 Budget (as a noun) is used in the British House of Commons to denote projected government expenses and revenues.
1945 The verb "budgeting" is used to describe the process of creating a budget for the purposes of personal financial planning. First recorded use was in an article that appeared in an issue of Women & Work, "Budgeting and shopping on a small income..."
|Good Housekeeping 1955|
1958 The word "budget" is used to describe something that is cheap for the first time in the November issue of Woman magazine. "This is just the drink to give party guests a glow -- at a budget price." In that same issue you find an article on, "Budget-wise dishes. Family recipes...that are easy on the purse."
1969 A "budget account" is a new noun that describes a type of credit account that customers can open at a department store.
2011 Investopedia.com. A budget is an estimate of the income (money in) and expenses (money out) that will flow in and out of a certain account over a set period of time.
My Take on the Word
If you asked me yesterday whether or not I do a budget for my family, I would have said yes. But now that I understand that the word implies forecasting cash flow in the future, then the truth is I don't do a budget. I do something else.
At the end of this month I will sit down and look through all of my receipts, bills and invoices and do a tally (in Excel) so that I know exactly how much money came in, how much money went out and what's left over. I use that information to see how I'm doing and where I should reign in or relax my spending next month. I never say things to myself like: I have $175 to spend on entertainment or I have $210 to spend on gas. That's what you do when you write up a budget...which I don't, apparently!
I have no idea what to call the "month end tally" that I do for my family but I'm sure there's name for it. If you know the answer, please post it!
Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.For reprint permission please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.