When most people think about budgeting, freedom is not typically the first word that comes to mind. More likely, it’s words like “constraining”, “suffocating”, and “frustrating”. I admit, I thought the same thing when I first started budgeting aggressively. Now, I’m a master budgeter, and my thoughts on budgeting have evolved. I think the idea that having a budget is going to be a huge hinderance on your lifestyle is a misconception that causes first time budgeters to shy away from budgeting, or to give it up when the going gets tough.
I have a different opinion.
I love my budget. I find that having a well tuned budget is a great way to stay in control of your finances, while being able to relax and enjoy your life. My budget gives me a lot of freedom, here’s how:
I Know My Limits
When I have a budget, I never have to worry about whether or not I’m spending too much money on something. Whenever that question comes up, I just consult my budget, and as long as I haven’t gone over in that particular category, I know I’m fine. For example, my husband and I just had a huge grocery bill – almost $200 in one trip! We had to fill up on a lot of essentials, which contributed to the big cost. Before my budgeting days, I would’ve worried that we were spending too much, but now, I know that as long as we stay under budget for the month, we’re good.
I Budget for Goals
My monthly budget includes money for my debt repayment. I want to pay off my remaining debt as soon as possible, so I’ve budgeted in $1500 per month for car payments. Because I’ve budgeted to have my car paid off very soon, I can go about my month, spending normally, without worrying that every purchase I make is going to leave me with less money for debt repayment, or if opting to buy that cute dress is going keep me from reaching my goals. My goals are budgeted, they’re taken care of, so I don’t have to think about them.
I Budget to Spend
Not all budgets are about depriving yourself.
I budget for things like trips, shopping, blow money, and even Christmas. I make sure to budget for these things generously, many months in advance. I typically put away a little bit of cash every week, so that when the big day of shopping or travelling comes, I’m well prepared. I’m free to spend all of that money, guilt free, because I allotted for it in my budget!
Often when I chat inexperienced budgeters, I get the sense that they find budgeting to be cumbersome, a huge inconvenience, or detrimental to their lifestyle. Budgets don’t have to be any of those things. I love my budget. It lets me spend what I want, when I want, without having to worry that I’m not achieving my long term goals, or that I’m not going to have enough money in the bank when Christmas rolls around. Budgeting lets me relax, knowing that my long and short term goals are taken care of, so that I don’t have to feel guilty when I decide to spend my blow money on a night out with friends.
Do you love your budget, do you hate it?