Do you hate budgeting?
I think most regular people truly hate the thought of creating and maintaining a personal finance budget.
In fact, if you put it on a list, I bet it would rank right up there with brussel sprouts and getting poked in the eye.
Personally, I’m a big believer in budgeting. I think it is an essential tool for reducing the stress and anxiety often associated with our finances. However, I didn’t always feel this way so, I can certainly relate if you have some reluctance.
I know firsthand the reasons we hate budgets because I used to hate them myself. Fortunately, I’ve given it a shot and found that a budget isn’t as bad a thing as I thought it would be. Hopefully, I can encourage you to give it a try too.
The 10 Reasons We Hate Budgets
Why do you hate the idea of living on a budget? Is it based on some past experience or just preconceived notions? I’m betting one or more of the items on the list below accounts for a good portion of the resistance you feel toward creating a budget.
Let’s get some of the objections out in the open and talk about them a little. Maybe this will help you to overcome your objection to budgeting.
1. We don’t want to be held accountable
I think this is a biggie. I know it was for me. I didn’t want someone standing over me with a club whacking me on the head every time I was a little impulsive. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do with my money.
I think there are two remedies for this. One, put yourself in charge of the budget. This gives you a better feeling of control. Two, build a personal slush fund into your plan. Set aside a specific amount each month that is your discretionary money to do with whatever you want. This way you won’t feel so constrained.
2. We are living in denial
Ignorance is bliss. Without a budget, no one really knows how much money we are wasting. Sure, everyone in the family knows we have money problems, but no one knows why. No one can justify shutting off the cable or avoiding the mall or staying away from Starbucks because no one really has their finger on where the money is going. Confronted with the truth, we might have to take actions we don’t want to take so let’s just not go there, okay?
Unfortunately, when we are embracing denial, it normally takes what I call a day of reckoning to get us to face the music. Someone loses their job or someone gets sick or we get a foreclosure notice. Something big happens that makes the mess unavoidable and undeniable. We are backed into a corner with no other way out, but to address the issue.
I’d encourage you to overcome your denial on your own terms. A day of reckoning isn’t pretty and things are usually so messed up that it is very difficult to recover.
3. We don’t know how to get started
I’ll admit that starting a budget can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before. There seems to be a lot to figure out. There are questions like, what method of budgeting should I use? What software should I buy? What spending categories should I setup?
Don’t let this stop you from getting started. Budgeting is just like everything else. You might not be the best at it when you are a beginner, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll learn what you need to know along the way and in the process, you will start putting your money to work toward your real priorities. You can always make changes later. They key is to just jump off as soon as possible. Also, be sure to check the end of this article for several resources that can help.
4. We think it will be too much work
I won’t kid you. It does take some effort to create and maintain a budget. However, if your budget is too much work, then you are doing something wrong. I spend about 1 to 2 hours per month maintaining my budget. That’s not much time for such a high-leverage activity. It will take you a little longer when you first get started, but with all the technology available today, budgeting is very easy.
I recommend a system like YNAB (what I use) or Mint.com. These systems can help you get up and running in no time and they make most of the really tedious work a cinch. Don’t just go with what is free or what your brother-in-law uses. Find the system that fits your personality and use that one even if it costs you a little money. It will be the best investment you’ve ever made.
5. We don’t make enough to need a budget
Some people seem to think that you only need a budget if you make a lot of money. After all, what’s the point in creating a budget when there is no money to do anything with? Well, I think these people are way off the mark. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you make. You need a budget.
A budget is a way to tell every last cent you make exactly what you want it to do for you. This ensures you get the most out of whatever income you bring home. It’s okay if you want a percentage of your money to go towards building your collection of exotic back scratchers. It’s your money. Do with it whatever you like, but squeeze every last ounce out of it by using a budget to prioritize your spending.
6. We tried budgeting before and it didn’t work
It takes a little time to get the hang of budgeting. After all, it is something totally new and foreign to most of us. I think a lot of people give up too soon. They start, totally blow their budget the first month and then give up. After such an experience, they write budgeting off as something that doesn’t work.
Give it another chance and commit to it for at least three months. By the end of the third month, if you are really serious about it, you’ll likely have the hang of it or at least be well on your way. Following your own budget plan is a big behavioral change. You have to be patient with yourself and allow time to adapt. Budgeting definitely works. You just have to train yourself to work your budget.
7. We want what we want and we want it now
This is the main reason that we overspend and have piles of debt. We have lost the ability to postpone our gratification until we have saved enough to pay cash for what we want. The kicker is that what we buy doesn’t usually make us happy anyway. Oh, it might give us a high for a couple of hours, days or weeks, but in the end we are right back where we started only with one more creditor calling us.
We need to get control of ourselves. We need to examine our real priorities. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” What is most important to you? Is it all the stuff you are accumulating or true peace and happiness? A budget is a discipline that can produce true peace and happiness. You may have to deny yourself at first, but in the end, it is a path to what you really want.
8. We always get in a fight when we talk about money
Money is often the source of big fights in marriages. It has certainly caused a few disagreements in my home. However, just ignoring money is no way to solve the issue. In fact, it is only going to make things worse over time. Yes, getting on and sticking to a budget can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but it will lead you to a better place.
I really like the suggestions that Brad offers in Marriage And Money: How To Improve Communication And Minimize Money Fights. He’s lived through the worst of creating change in his marriage and lived to tell about it. I think you’ll find his story encouraging and helpful.
9. We don’t want the limits a budget imposes
A budget does create some guidelines. It creates boundaries, but so does a pile of debt. A budget you control. Debt controls you. When your spending is overboard, you are voluntarily handing control of your life to other people. You are willfully entering into a contract to work for Discover or Visa or American Express or Mastercard until that debt is paid off. Is that Frappuccino really worth it?
The limits a budget imposes are voluntary, self-imposed limits. You are making the decisions. If you’ve gotten yourself in over your head financially, then you know that once you are in this situation, you have no control. You have a lot of limits, but no say in how things play out in your life. It is scary, depressing and very stressful. A budget is a tool to undo such a mess. The limits it imposes are good limits. Embrace them.
10. We think it will make us look poor
Dave Ramsey says that normal is broke. It is funny that people that often look rich don’t have a dime to their name. Generally, they owe way more than they can ever pay back. Scaling back your spending will make you look weird. That is true, but after a brief adjustment period, you’ll know it was the best thing you ever did for yourself and your family.
True wealth comes from saving and building net worth. It comes from making wise financial decisions. A budget helps you to do just that. It gives you a way to direct your money instead of just letting it drain out the bottom of your checking account. You may look a little poor at first, but a budget will take you down the road to real wealth. Which would you rather have? The appearance of riches or true riches?
Learn to Stop Hating Budgets
We often hate what we don’t really understand. This is so very true with budgeting. It isn’t a club to beat yourself or your family over the head with. It is a compass that guides you to greener pastures. Here are a few resources to help you learn to stop hating budgets and to get you started down the path to success:
- Back To Basics: 79+ Brilliant Budgeting Resources You’ll Love
- Envelope Budgeting System
- If Budgeting Isn’t Fun, You’re Doing It Wrong
- A Review of Mint.com – Online Budget Tool
- Budgeting: The Most Important Thing You Can Do With Your Money
Photo by *Zara