Recently, the Sound Mind Investing newsletter ran a series of articles that detailed the practical steps of creating and maintaining that most important of financial tools — a budget. Whoa! For some of you, just the mention of the word "budget" made the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

If you've resisted the idea of establishing a personal budget in the past, perhaps you're clinging to one or more of these favorite reasons not to budget:

Reason #1: You prefer playing Russian roulette with your bank account. The idea of possibly receiving a nasty call from your bank or having your debit card refused at time of purchase is an adrenaline rush, like financial bungee jumping. So knowing how and where your money is being spent would make life rather bland.

Me? I have found more productive ways to add excitement to my life, like an annual beach vacation — which our budget allows us.

Reason #2: You just love arguing with your spouse about how to spend money. You prefer cold nights sulking by yourself while your spouse yells at you about the new LCD TV you brought home. You can't get enough of the phrase, "But honey, I thought we had talked about it."

Having a pre-arranged, spouse-approved system to guide your spending decisions sounds boring. You don't get enough friction and stress from your work, kids, relationships, and life-in-general, so you rely on heated financial arguments to help you get your fix.

In my experience, budgets help reduce blame since spending is decided on together. A couple's budget doesn't get signed off on until both parties agree. Then, when spending issues arise, the budget can be blamed instead of your spouse, and you can agree to simply adjust your budget categories at your next budget meeting. No hard feelings or angry words required.

The real beauty of this is that eliminating financial arguments frees up time to argue about more important things, like climate control.

Reason #3: You're rather fond of old myths like "Budgets are too much work" or the ever-popular, "I don't have time." Taking an hour a month to manage the money you worked 160+ hours to earn seems just plain foolish.

The phrase "easy come, easy go" bothers me. I may be the exception, but spending 2,000+ hours a year to make a living hardly qualifies as easy in my book. It definitely seems worthwhile to spend an additional 1% of that time managing those precious dollars.

Reason #4: You think that because you don't have a problem paying your bills, you must already be the best possible steward of your finances. No room for improvement, and no possible way you could increase your ability to give to the Lord's Kingdom.

I find it instructive that even tennis great Roger Federer has a coach. What's that got to do with anything? If the best tennis player in the world realizes that he still needs help and can benefit from some accountability, surely my finances can too.

Reason #5: Your crystal ball offers you a perfect view of the future, showing you in advance when unexpected financial crises are headed your way.

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That must really come in handy î şthe rest of us have to actually plan for life's unexpected and irregular expenses. You know, like the hot water heater having to be replaced, or the dishwasher giving out three days before the company arrives for Christmas.

Hopefully this playful look at "reasons" not to budget shows how silly some of our common excuses for not budgeting look when we really stop to examine them. The fact is, many people believe having a budget is restrictive, miserable and brings any fun you are ever allowed with your money to a screeching halt.

The truth of the matter is that having a budget is actually extremely liberating. If it's in the budget, there's no need to feel guilty about buying it. It's great to know that if your clothes category has accumulated $100, you can have a small guilt-free shopping spree at Old Navy. And it's much more fun buying a table-saw or sewing machine when it has been accounted for in advance within the budget, rather than having to endure the always draining game of spousal "You did what?!?"

By finishing this article, you've taken the first step towards financial freedom. The remaining steps won't be easy, but we're confident you'll look back and agree the results were worth the effort. Make 2010 the year you trade your world of financial unrest for the peace and security of a budget.

Published since 1990, Sound Mind Investing is America's best-selling financial newsletter written from a biblical perspective. Visit the Sound Mind Investing website .

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