Is being rich an automatic protection against problems with money? I won”t insult your intelligence – of course not!

We’ve all read and watched stories of big losses by powerful people, especially during this time of the Great Recession, and yet… what do most of us think we need to put our life back on track? More Money Please! However, after reading various stories like this one on Yahoo, “Rich and Famous in Foreclosure,” it seems as if being rich doesn”t necessarily mean protection from the same problems those of us less monetarily-blessed have.

In that story, one reader astutely commented that the problem isn”t that the rich didn”t have the money, but that they didn”t budget appropriately. They also recommended, and I heartily agree, that budgeting needs to be part of every high school”s curriculum. At the moment, if we don”t learn how to budget from our parents or guardians, who do we learn it from? We learn it the hard way, of course!

Although budgeting is no fun, it does make life easier. Like many people, I didn”t have the faintest idea of budgeting when I first set out on my own and had to learn by trial and error.

Most professional budget experts recommend “paying yourself first,” which means (as per my understanding) setting money aside in an account to save for the future. When you don”t earn enough money to do that, everyone I know in this situation makes the tough choices. What are our priorities?

In my opinion, bill priorities have to do with survival: shelter, warmth, health, and food (rent, electricity/gas, groceries, insurance). If you work from home, cable and maybe your phone are also priorities. Although all bills have to be paid, when times are tight, paying just a few dollars over the minimum amount due on credit cards is perfectly acceptable in my way of thinking. Not ideal, but acceptable for a temporary measure.

I would say that the majority of the country has learned to scale down these past few years, as the news went from bad, to really bad, to worse! However, as we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and climb out of the Recession – as the unemployment numbers continue to go down as new jobs become available, I have to wonder what the future will bring to future generations. Will life ever go back to “normal” pre-recession spending?

Or have we, victorious Americans, finally learned the value of a budget?