I recently asked a Twitter poll question on what is the top personal finance goal in 2018. The top result was budgeting. By far, budgeting seems to get more people tripped up on a consistent basis in personal finance.
Why is budgeting a “bad” word for people to even talk about? Saying the word budgeting is as faux pas as the word dieting. The correlation between budgeting and dieting is restriction. Restriction makes most of us cringe. I too strive to be free so why in the hell would I want to try anything that makes me feel restricted!?!
The oxymoronic piece of budgeting is that the perception of restriction pushes people away.
When there is an active budget in place it creates healthy boundaries with spending. The operative word is “active.” When I say active, I don’t mean creating a budget and putting it to the side to only pick up after the fact while beating yourself up the things you didn’t do. I am talking about an active, working document that sets limits on your spending, while giving you the freedom to enjoy life.
It is like playing a game of tennis. If you stay within the boundaries of the court, you can continue playing your match. If you go out of bounds, you lose a point and have to start over. In comparison to budgeting, when you stray away from an active budget you lose momentum and have to start over. Starting over takes so much more energy than a continuous game where the stride is in motion. Continuous motion is the action you want to strive for with budgeting.
If you got out of bounds, I encourage you to start over and get yourself back in the game. Resolve to win at all costs.
Convinced budgets are your friend and not your foe? If you are fired up and ready to get started, follow these 3 easy steps:
1. PREPARE IN ADVANCE
Create a money plan for the month ahead. It will consist of two columns - one column for Money In and another for Money Out. Money In is amount of your take home monthly income and Money Out are the expenses you have throughout the month. Make sure to account (like my pun?) for both fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage, and variable expenses, such as utilities and entertainment.
2. LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Is there a party coming up next month? An upcoming vacation to save for? Annual expenses, i.e. property taxes, that creep up every year? If so, put an amount in your budget for the future items. Save that money in either a separate savings account or with cash.
3. FUN MONEY
Please, please, please put the “fun” back into budgeting.This is where the fun comes in and pushes the “boredom” out. Include amounts to go on adventures (which also includes food) each month if possible.Have fun with your money and give yourself the freedom to play.
Budgeting creates freedom by giving you the framework of spending your money within healthy boundaries. Make your budget active and see the beautiful gift it can unfold with your personal finances. Resolve to begin budgeting today to create the prosperous financial "fun" future you desire.
“If it is going to be, it is up to me.” – Robert Schuller