Everyone has their own opinions about the dreaded “B” word. Yes, I’m talking about the budget. Depending on who you talk to, some people might shudder at the very word or thought. Others open up and you can tell that they feel freer than ever. They feel the budget helps them stay accountable and helps them get control of other aspects of their life as well.
Why is this?
What is it that gives some people horrible memories about budgeting and how can we get to a place where the word “budget” is no longer a negative word?
Anti-Budgeters: The Budget is Constricting
For some people, the budget has some very negative connotations that come up with it depending on past experience.
Here are some of the negative excuses people give for not creating or having a budget:
I Don’t Make Enough Money
“I don’t make enough money to do a budget”. This is a funny phrase because it implies that only high-income earners are worthy of needing a budget. If you feel that you don’t need a budget because you don’t have enough money, then there is probably a serious income/outgo problem occurring.
Until you face the person in the mirror, you will never be able to make enough because that person in the mirror will never stop overspending. But, you will never know unless you do a budget.
I Can’t Do Everything I Want
A lot of people think that if they do a budget, they won’t be able to do everything they want to. They are partially correct. Most of us don’t have enough extra money to do everything we want all the time. But, we can focus our money and budget to do something that we want with our money.
Contentedness plays a huge role in budgeter’s minds as they are forced to put off things in order to take advantage of other things. It’s easy to just do what you want now and try to pay the consequences later, but it’s also disastrous.
I would tell this person to try a budget and focus on one or two things that they “wanted” to do as time and money allow.
I Don’t Think It Can Ever Change My Outlook
Some people have just lost hope and don’t feel that a budget will even make a change in what they are doing at all. Or they think that if they wrote out one budget, they’re done and no longer need to do a new budget ever again.
However, your budget changes from month to month as different things come up each month and you have to plan or react to them each time. If you fail to have a plan to make things work, you will never get ahead so that you can build margin in your life. Hence, the reason why they lose hope and don’t think a budget can ever change their habits.
It’s Too Hard
“Budgeting is just too hard!”. I’m sorry, but writing out your income and expenses on a piece of paper and making sure that your expenses are less than your income is as simple as sixth-grade math. There is no reason that people shouldn’t be able to make and follow a simple budget.
Most people are just too afraid of what they are really spending and a budget would bring those wounds to the surface forcing them to have to cut back or give up a few things initially.
Sit down, write down your average income and start tracking your expenses and get a bigger picture of where your money is going.
Pro-Budgeters – The Budget Is Empowering
Some people’s lives have been changed by the budget (I’m one of them). The budget has opened up their finances to take them to a whole new level of how to spend their money.
They are laser focused and know just where their money is going, they are hitting goals and have more spending freedom with less guilt from their expenditures because they are planned.
Tell Your Money Where To Go
When you create a budget, you’re in charge of your money; your money can’t just do what it wants. When you purpose your money and put an action plan to it, you are able to focus the energy of it and direct it in whatever direction you want.
If you want to spend $800+ on eating out, that’s fine, as long as YOU are telling it to do that and it’s not hindering your other goals.
We simply can’t do everything at once, but we can do something. And by taking steps, we can accomplish so much more with our money.
Plan To Hit Your Goals
With a budget, you are able to set goals and hit those goals, sometimes even earlier than expected. If you have a good handle on your money, you are going to be able to squeeze out more and more of your hard earned dollars and direct them to line up and march towards your goals that you are trying to achieve.
Trying to get out of debt? Put together a budget and find areas that you can cut down your expenses so that you can free up more money to pay your debt off faster.
Trying to save for a trip, emergency fund, a big recurring expense, or just to have some play money? Set up a category that allows you to put money away each pay period so that you can be working to hit that goal!
When you establish a goal this way, you can see the end and it will motivate you to push on, sometimes even harder than when you set out because you want to hit the goal so much!
Allows You Freedom To Spend
When you have a budget, you are in charge of your money.
You get to direct how much goes towards bills going out, vacations, car payments, savings, etc. But, if you don’t get control of your finances, you won’t know where it’s going and you will not feel like you can get traction.
Feels Like We Got a Raise
A lot of people feel like they got a raise when they started budgeting. This is because they start seeing where their money is going and can start directing how they think it needs to be spent more efficiently.
A lot of people find that they are overspending in an area where they didn’t know and then can seek to reduce that spending, freeing up more money than before to go to better places. This gives more money to aim at whatever goals you are setting, therefore making them feel like they got a raise. We work too hard for our money, there is no reason to just throw it away when we can make better use out it with such a simple tool!
By taking action in your life and holding yourself accountable, you are producing a track record and are setting a baseline to start from and improve on.
This article was originally published on the author’s website My Family on a Budget and is republished here with his permission.
Photo credit: Flickr/KenTeegardin