Yesterday I wrote about 9 common excuses why you don’t have a budget. Today I’m going to bust those excuses and show you why you need a budget.
Excuse Busters For Not Having A Budget:
- You Don’t Want To Be Told What To Do – Really? You don’t want something to tell you how to spend your money. Well how do you like the bills you pay every month? Or looking at your bank account and being told you don’t have funds to cover an expense? Truth is, when you have an effective budget you are in control of your money and you can see what you are doing. The only one doing the telling is you with a budget.
- You Feel Constrained – Yes, a budget tells you how much money you may have for different expenses. And you may not be able to spend indiscriminately. But the truth is a budget can be liberating! You know exactly what you can afford and you know where your money is going. When you know your expenses you can re-allocate your spending to fit your needs and wants. Without a budget it’s more like a high wire without a net.
- You Can’t Do What you Want – Not the case. A budget will tell you what you can afford. With a good budget you can change your spending to allocate more money for things that are important to you. You cut out the frivolous spending for things with more purpose.
- Can’t Give up Your Ego And Admit You Need to Control Your Spending – Get over yourself and take a good look at the bills you have and the stress you go through every month to pay them. Look at how quickly your paycheck disappears and how your bank account dwindles. You want the best stuff, I get it. But you have to reign in your spending. The lifestyle you are trying to live is an illusion and it’s much healthier for you to truly live your life instead. Don’t worry so much about appearances because appearances lie. Be!
- Your Expenses Are Too Big To Get your Head Around – It can be a daunting task to start a budget if you haven’t done one before. Start small. Gather up your bills. If you don’t have them then as they come in write down their totals in a spreadsheet (or a notebook). After you have put together your expenses, compare that to your income (for most that’s you paycheck stubs over the month). Once you can see you expenses and income you can start to go more into the details. Start holding on to receipts as you spend and mark them down. Track down the little expenses. Take a look at those bills and see what they are made up of. The point is, if you want to start a budget you can. Don’t think you have to do it all at once. For most a budget is work in process.
- You’re Afraid – Liberate yourself from this fear. If you are afraid then you probably think your expenses/spending are out of control. It may not be as bad as you think. Even if it is, once you can put a definite figure on it you’ve taken a step to start attacking it. It’s not going to get better until you decide to do something about it and a big first step is starting a budget!
- It Takes Too Much Energy And Time – Maybe at first it takes some time. But once you know your recurring bills it gets a lot quicker. Get yourself organized and you’ll find it doesn’t take much time at all (personal finance software like Mint, Mvelopes, or Moneydance – review can help). And you will also find that tracking things like your taxes expenses will be easier since you’ve been keeping track of spending all year.
- It’s Depressing – It doesn’t make me happy all the time to see what money I have left for the month. Or to see how much I pay out. But a budget is empowering. With you budget you are in control and you see exactly what you spend. What makes me happy (not depressed) is knowing that I have a handle on my money. It’s a powerful feeling in fact!
- You Manage To Get By Without One – That’s great if you get all of your bills paid and still have money left over without a budget. You might even have money going into savings and a retirement account. Some people are naturally good at keeping track. But if you put together a budget you may find lots of small “money leaks” that you weren’t aware of previously. You may find that your savings and such will grow considerably when you see exactly what your spending is. From personal experience, my wife and I were surprised to see how much we spent on the weekends on little things. Had we known then what we know now we’d have much nicer savings!
- Your Spouse Isn’t On the Same Page As You – You need to sit down and talk to your spouse and have a serious money talk. A budget doesn’t mean you can’t use money any more it just means you know where that money is going and why. A budget allows you to align your goals for your family.
Hey, you know what? A budget isn’t that tough! Stop making excuses and get started on one. You just might find things are easier once you see where your money is going.
Bonus: I just discovered these templates to help manage your finances in Google Docs! They’re free and there’s a whole bunch of them!
No More Excuses!
See Part I: 9 Excuses Why You Haven’t Started A Budget
photo credit: peasap
I can’t vouch for this personally because my bank is not yet included, but I have heard wonderful things about mint.com – free personal finance software. What I have heard about this program is that it is very user-friendly and almost makes budgeting fun! Maybe someone else who has used mint.com can provide some more insight. I am anxiously anticipating the day when they add my bank – I have a feeling it will be much easier than using spreadsheets.
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@ Hannah – I’ve also heard a lot about Mint. Haven’t tried it yet. Maybe I’m still nervous about entering my bank info in one more place? As they grow I’m sure other companies will jump in too. Quicken is out there too and I hear they have a free online version.
I always found the “can’t do what you want” kind of amusing. You can do whatever you want — as long as you plan for it and include it in the budget. What’s really restricting is when you get to a point where you are so far in debt and you have so many obligations that your options are extremely limited.
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@ Miranda – I absolutely agree! That attitude itself is rooted in illusion.
the weakonomist says
Those are good counters to the typical excuses, but in my experience people have to come to budgets on their own. Most people don’t embrace them until they absolutely have to. It’s like telling someone to quit smoking because it’s bad for you. Of course they know that, but they aren’t going to stop because of it.
@ Weakonomist – That does tend to be true. But hearing something over and over does help to get a point across eventually. Sometimes seeing something spelled out and seeing that other people have had the same issue also help you to come to terms and make a change.
You can put me in the “overwhelmed” camp…I’ve got so many bills and expenses, it’s difficult to organize it all into a solid budget. I know it’s going to be “good for me” once it’s done, but so is getting cavities filled.
Ah, well. I’m being a bit facetious, but I’ll keep reminding myself of the benefits and get it done.
@ Scott – I know how crazy it can be! Start small if you need to and keep track of a few big expenses and as the months go by add others. I think you’ll see it gets easier as you go along!