This paper reports findings from twenty-six interviews conducted with retired households about the way they make budgeting decisions. The data are presented with three objectives. First, to describe the way that households carry out the process of budgeting. Secondly, to consider the implications for economic and sociological theories of consumption. Thirdly, to construct a framework for understanding budgetary decision making which organises the data usefully and places current theories in a clearer relationship to each other. It is found that personal budgeting has several characteristics which are poorly represented in existing theories of consumption: the strong relation between time and money in decision making, the importance of durable goods, the social rather than rational nature of household decision making and the need for budgeting strategies to deal with uncertainty. A five-level framework is presented which shows how different resources and methods are used by decision makers to manage their money.
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