It’s time to focus on saving money or getting rid of your debt, but you would rather do anything than sit down and make a budget. Does this sound like you? Do you associate budgeting with going on a diet? You think, “I’ll start that another day,” because budgeting is a buzzkill.
Why do most people hate budgeting?
If I am honest, I don’t overly enjoy budgeting either, and I coach people on this stuff for a living! Budgeting requires us to take action. And quite frankly, we as humans tend are naturally motivated by the things that come easily and naturally to us. Many believe budgeting is hard, so just the thought of sitting down to write out a budget makes them cringe. I get it; it is hard to be inspired by personal finance, particularly if we don’t have a positive money mindset.
Most people do not like to budget. It is often the main reason people are hesitant to begin a journey toward financial recovery. However, creating a budget is an essential part of the process.
Here are some of the reasons that most people find little to no joy in budgeting:
- It takes a lot of self-motivation to get started.
- It becomes a to-do list item that gets buried by more pressing tasks.
- Many experts tell people they are already doing it wrong, so why bother?
- Budgeting is an experiment, and many run out of patience when it doesn’t work the first time.
- People are overwhelmed by where they are and where they want to be financially.
- Many are stuck in shame and self-judgment because of money mistakes from the past.
- People aren’t usually excited about looking at their lack of money.
- Personal finance can be boring!
So how do we move from hating it to rolling up our sleeves and getting it done? After reading the list above, do you see at least one reason that rings true for you? We don’t want to do the things we don’t like; we want to do the fun stuff.
What if I told you that the key to reframing your position on budgeting is to discover your “why” for moving toward financial stability? You won’t be able to move forward financially until you can get your money behavior to line up with your financial goals. The way to do that is to begin budgeting.
Below are 5 Tips for Moms Who Hate to Budget
1. Start With Small Goals and Actions
Having a goal and pinpointing why you want to win with money is important. If you feel like it is time to get your finances in order, you will want to start by writing down 2-3 reasons you are doing this. What are the 2-3 that you want to do this? Is it to get out of debt, go on a vacation, or make a career change? Whatever your reasons are, get clear and write them down. You will need to be able to refer back to them to stay on course.
Once your goals are clearly defined, start with smaller actionable goals. For instance, most financial experts would like you to have 3-6 months of expenses set aside for emergencies. If that seems like a goal that is too far off for you, start with just focusing on building one month’s worth of expenses. Want to pay off all of your debt; okay, start with the lowest debt and prioritize knocking that one out first. Small, attainable, actionable goals will help you stay focused and motivated.
2. Keep It Simple
The number one reason I hear from clients why they don’t budget is that they don’t like math. We don’t need to overcomplicate addition and subtraction. Also, you don’t need fancy apps or spreadsheets, which tend to turn many people off budgeting. I like to use pen and paper, scratch paper, a journal, and a notebook. Just use what you have and write it out. If you are tech-savvy, then download an app or create a spreadsheet. Do what works for you.
Start with figuring out what income is coming in (after taxes) and subtract what is going out (expenses). Super simple! Another pro tip when starting is to use a Paycheck Budget. A Paycheck Budget works by looking at one paycheck and determining what bills have to be paid before you get paid again. For the next paycheck, you will determine what will need to be paid with that one and plan accordingly. This takes some of the overwhelm out of planning for a whole month in advance.
Some of the major categories that you will use when looking at your expenses are:
In that order.
3. Get Comfortable With Imperfection
I tell my newbie budgeters that a first-time budget is just an experiment. It usually takes at least 90 days to feel comfortable creating a budget. In those first few months, you are tweaking and massaging it to work for you and your family. Things will pop up, and expenses will change unexpectedly, so learn to adjust and go with the flow at first. Too often, people put unnecessary pressure on themselves as they are learning to budget, which leads to a feeling of failure. When this happens, the budget goes out the door.
As you start the budgeting process, your list of priorities will reveal itself. And here’s the neat part: many people don’t even know their financial priorities when they first begin. You will discover them and surprise yourself with the power and freedom that comes with making financial decisions for you and your family. Ultimately, budgets don’t have to be set in stone. Just learn to adjust and don’t expect perfection.
4. Give Yourself Some Money
Budgets can feel restrictive because when starting, you tend to forget about all the little ways you spend money. I suggest looking back at the previous 2-3 months to see where your money has been going to get a good sense of how you are currently spending money. The more precise you can get on the numbers, the easier the budgeting process.
Be sure to give yourself some of your money, and don’t just make a budget to pay bills. How are you currently spending money on yourself? Do you treat yourself daily at a coffee shop, clothing, self-care items, or gym memberships? Be sure to build your personal spending into the budget.
5. Focus on the Positives, Not the Sacrifices
The opportunity to create a budget is to give yourself true financial freedom. Unfortunately, budgeting has gotten a bad rap because it feels much like a diet where you focus on everything you can’t have. Because isn’t it true when we are told we can’t have the cupcake, all we want is the dang cupcake?
The goal here is not to take away all the things you love or enjoy doing but rather to build them into your budget each month. If you want to reach your financial goals faster, be willing to say “no” to things you don’t necessarily need right now to say “yes” to the things you love!
It All Comes Back to Your Why
Those goals you wrote down on day one will come into play because there will be days that you want something outside of your budget, or you will reach for the credit card to buy the thing that is calling your name. Budgeting takes commitment and willpower, but the sacrifices won’t last forever. As you see positive growth toward your established goals, you will gain confidence, and the momentum will keep you motivated.
Budgeting can be challenging but also highly rewarding. It does take practice and consistency, but like all new skills, it takes some time to get good at it. Even people who are good at it have challenges. My advice is not to be scared off by budgeting but embrace it as a way to gain control and make your money behave.