Have you ever attempted to create a budget only for it to fail you at the end of the month?
You didn't fail for lack of trying.
Creating a budget isn't the hard part, it's sticking to it that's downright frustrating.
When I first heard the word budget, I thought to myself, “Budgeting is going to suck!” Not only did I feel like it was going to restrict what I could spend my hard-earned money on, I felt like it was pointless. I was paying my bills on time, making the occasional extra payment towards debt, and every so often I would throw some money into my savings. I was getting by.
When you are truly successful with your money, just “getting by” is a thing of the past. Getting over the initial negative thoughts about budgeting is the first step towards an actual game plan for your finances.
So how did I overcome these negative thoughts about budgeting? Well, I am not going to lie, it took some time, dedication, and down-right will power. It took many failed attempts, budgets left by the wayside, and too many different methods to keep track of.
Once I found the budgeting system that worked best for me, budgeting gradually got easier, and eventually, I couldn't function without it. Financial goals were clearer, and for the first time in my life, I knew exactly where I wanted my money to go. I no longer thought about budgeting being restrictive. It just allowed me to choose how I wanted my money to work for me.
So, I started wondering, am I the only personal finance expert that had these initial negative thoughts about budgeting? Am the only one who had that “ah-hah” moment when I realized budgeting really didn't suck, and in fact, deep down I kinda loved it?
I reached out to other personal finance experts and bloggers to get their take on budgeting. I wanted to find out if they also had negative views about budgeting in the beginning. If they did, did they also learn to love it, and how did they get there?
Here is what 13 personal finance experts and bloggers had to say about budgeting. It's my hope that their stories will inspire you to look at budgeting in a different way. I want you to get over the initial negative feelings you may have about budgeting, and start a game plan for success. It all starts with a budget.
Trips to Starbucks were cramping my fun budget, so I signed up for Google's Screenwise/Cross-media panel. Basically, I let them watch my phone and computer in exchange for $2 a week in Starbucks (or other gift cards). Sacrificing my privacy? Yup. But I get caffeine out of the deal, so it's all good! – Dan
I actually DO think budgeting sucks. It is about as much fun as counting calories every day. But, darn it, when my jeans get tighter, counting calories again to see where things are going astray works. Same with budgeting. In general, we do a sort of 50/20/30 budget but will take a closer look if it seems like we've lost track of some of the spending. – Laura
When we first started to get our finances under control, I didn't have a budget. At the time, I thought budgets were restrictive and prescriptive – plus, even when I tried to set a spending limit in a certain category, I often ignored it. To overcome this, I started diligently tracking my spending and expenses, down to the penny. I found ways to lower spending in the categories that I didn't care about as much to allow more flexibility in the categories that were more important to me. After tracking our spending for a while, I was able to figure out comfortable amounts for each category. I check in with my spending each week and, if we are spending too much in one category, we scale back the rest of the month. Having a clear picture of where we are each week helps me keep on track with the monthly budget. – Amanda
Budgeting feels restrictive because it sets limits on how you can spend your money. I overcame this feeling by asking myself ‘how can I afford this?' instead of saying ‘this is not in the budget.' Framing spending this way gave me back control and helped me feel like budgeting was a roadmap for my money, not a limit on how to spend it. – Natalie
I used to think budgeting sucked because I barely had room for anything fun after paying my monthly bills and the minimums on my debt. But now that I've gotten more clear on my values, I've been able to make adjustments in my spending to cut things I didn't enjoy and make room for things I DO enjoy while still paying off debt. – Kayla
One reason for why I didn't like budgeting before was because I thought they were too complicated. Just the word “budget” can be intimidating to many, and that used to hold me back from creating one. However, I now know that budgets aren't all too scary and they don't have to be extremely structured in order for them to work. – Michelle
It can be daunting to create a budget because it forces you to face the realities of your spending and financial habits. However, budgeting is one of the best strategies to take of your financial life. Budgeting allows you to take a mirror to your finances and see more clearly the areas for improvement.” – Zack
When I knew we had to start living on a budget, I expected it to be horrible. I pictured not ever being able to do anything fun at all and spending the next 5 years wanting things I couldn't have. I'm not going to lie… it was EXACTLY like that for a few months, but I also felt relief and hope with our finances for the first time in forever. And once we got used to budgeting and stuck to it, I found that budgeting gave me freedom to actually enjoy things without feeling guilty for overspending. We've had “fun money” written into our budget for years. Even when we could only afford $20 a month. Looking back on it,those $20 family fun dates were the most fun we've had as family. – Rosemarie
I thought budgeting sucked because I felt like it held me back from buying the things that I wanted to buy, such as nights out with friends and beauty products. Once I'd had my little girl however, my perspective changed and I realized that I wanted to handle my money better. I thought of goals and strategies that I wanted to achieve these, and found budgeting incredibly helpful for keeping on track and knowing where all of my money went. I use budgeting to enable me to pay off debt and I will continue to budget to ensure my money is going towards my big goals, instead of into retailers pockets! – Francesca
I previously thought budgeting sucked because it was so restrictive. I couldn't do the things I wanted to do because of my budget. The older I got the more I realized there were very real places I wanted to go: owning a business, buying a home, and budgeting was one of the ways I could get there. I always say budgeting is the road map to achieve financial success. Having guidelines (like using the 50-30-20 budget) has been super helpful in making sure I stay on track. – Lauren
The initial component of budgeting that sucks is learning to tell yourself “no!” It's hard to limit your spending and learn to live with less when you're used to buying whatever you want. Over time, however, it becomes a lot easier. Once you start saying “no” to the expenses that don't really matter to you, you end up with more cash to pay for the things that do. – Holly
Sometimes I feel like budgeting sucks when I'm looking around my house and instead of looking like a page out of Pottery Barn, our house looks like a photo from Craigslist! The reality though…we are paying cash for things and living within our budget which gives me the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom to my 3 boys. I've learned to keep my blinders on and not compare my home to others. I try to live in the moment and appreciate this stage …messy, busy, crazy life! – Ashleigh
I think a big reason why budgeting sucks so much has to do with our mindset. When I started making some small tweaks in the way I look at my budget, I found myself sticking to it a lot better (and saving way more!). So what did I do? I began making it a point to plan/schedule FUN things into my budget. I started treating outings and splurges as planned budget items. Allotting money for rent and utilities isn't exactly inspiring, but planning a date night or a round of golf gives me something to look forward to each month- without breaking the bank. Using mini rewards like these actually makes me look forward to creating a budget… something that I have never felt!” – Jeff
Have you learned to love budgeting? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!