I say "bad news" because facing facts is often the last thing we want to do. Something in our human nature that makes the hardest things the last things we want to do, if we ever get to them. It may be comforting to realize that home budgets are not technically hard to do, only elementary-level arithmetic is required and you can even cheat and use a calculator. Though most of the time the technical skill is not what holds people back, its the emotions and feelings that get unearthed in the process. Again, it's important to realize that what keeps people from keeping a home budget is not the elementary-level arithmetic, but the emotions and feelings that get unearthed.
I say "good news" because the economy won't let us keep putting this off. We have to sober up. It's time to learn from our mistakes and make better choices. For most of us there just isn't the credit cushion of which we had grown accustomed to and that enabled our worst spending habits and semi-conscious patterns.
I am going to probably end up repeating it many times on this blog, which is necessary to do because it is so vitally important and so often overlooked--- we are social animals-- we need each other more than we think. To function optimally, we need a healthy robust support network. We do not function well as isolated individuals maximizing our own self-interest. This is the myth of the 1%, if you will, and enough of us have bought into it that it almost seems real, but the shame we feel when we don't cut it is killing us. We need a supportive public life. We need a social support network, that is both deep and wide, to support us when things get strained at home, at work or in our neighborhood. This social safety net, what has been called Social Capital, may be the most important aspect in our health care. And it deeply depends on trust. Trust that we build together one step at a time. Likewise none of it happens if we remain in isolation and secrecy. This is a larger question to explore, but just for today we can feel moved and inspired to take our first step: start a home budget and tell a friend what we are doing.