It would be pleasant to promise, as the old saw does so glibly to those who go early to bed and are early to rise, that the making of a budget and the checking of it by accounts would make every one "healthy, wealthy and wise." But that would be to promise too much. Certainly one should be nearer "wealthy" and "wise," at least, if one has been faithful to the plan, but the budget is not a panacea, or any form of magic, white or black. It cannot make possible to us the spending all the money we would like, or the getting from the money we have all that we desire. But it can give us the satisfaction that comes from any application of intelligence to an important problem.
The plea of this book is that accounts (in conjunction with a budget) are interesting, even entertaining to keep and to study. But they cannot be either for the person who refuses to find any interest in the consideration of how best to use his or her resources. There is no question that "you get your money's worth" to a greater extent with a plan than without, but not if the plan is made reluctantly and looked on as an ogre that threatens to kill pleasure whenever he sees it.
Further than this, those who plan and spend for purely selfish ends - just to get the best food and clothing and shelter and fun for themselves out of their dollars and cents - defeat their own end as they seek happiness. They are not the happy folk, even if every penny has bought just what they wanted it to buy. Planning a budget - the way one family or individual is to use the power latent in bill and coin - is a process that affects society far beyond the walls of the house in which it is planned. It is the social aspect that gives the budget its great importance. But fortunately this is a case where two ends may be attained by the same means. The kind of planning and of carrying out the plan that is most profitable to society as a whole is the same kind that brings to those who plan the rewards for which they may reasonably hope.