I hate budgeting. I’ll be the first one to admit it. This is probably because I hate all things administrative and to me it’s an administrative activity. But what I do like is having control over my money, knowing where it’s going, making sure I have enough to do the things I love and building wealth. So instead of looking at a budget as something restrictive and limiting, I see it as a tool for getting more of what I do want:
If you think about it, every business big or small tracks its income, expenses and profits. As individuals we are not much different. Knowing what’s coming in, coming out and what’s left over gave me a clear picture of my financial situation, has allowed me to find areas where I was wasting money and do things like: pay off debt, get an MBA( read about that here), go on a trip to Italy, go to music festivals, and many other things. Whatever your financial goals might be, it is critical that you come up with a budget. This will allow you to see what happens with the money you make and learn how you can adjust your spending to reach your goals. I’ve learned that it’s not about how much money we make but rather what we do with that money that counts. I have met people who make $200,000 but spend $300,000 or more per year. So by simply doing the math we can see why they would be in debt and have nothing left over. I also have been at a point where I spent more than I made and that has given me a lot of anxiety, so when I was ready to make the changes, I decided to make a budget and that has helped me tremendously to reach my goals.
I have met people, who love burying their heads in spreadsheets, working with numbers and building tables. I know that I’m not one of them even though I somehow managed to get an accounting degree, weird I know. So since I hate everything administrative I like using budgeting tools like Mint.com. In fact I can’t live without it. There are also some other ones you can look into:
You have to decide which one works for you based on your comfort level and needs. I like Mint because I can link all my accounts to the platform, set budgets and goals and even track my investment portfolio. Mint automatically updates the accounts and sends notifications if I’m over budget or if there has been a large sum transaction. I know that safety of a web platform which has access to all your accounts is a concern for a lot of people, and for me as well. I like Mint because they are analyzed and certified by prominent third-party providers like TRUSTe, VeriSign and other trusted professionals in online security. They also have multi-factor authentication and safeguard for the mobile app. Of course there’s never a 100% guarantee that their systems would never be broken into, however we take that risk every day with all the online platforms we use, as well as online banking and investment sites. If you just can’t justify doing this online, there’s always the good old Excel budgeting sheets, or even pen and paper. You can print a budgeting sheet for free from here. Whatever method works for you, I promise that if you keep a budget for a few months you will learn so much about where your money is going, and how to adjust your spending to reach your goals.
Budgeting is hard, it’s really hard. Not only do we have to track what we’re spending, we also have to then adjust our spending and say no to ourselves. But if we focus on what’s important to us, it makes it easier. Understanding what is important to me, what my values and goals are has really helped me cut spending leaks that were preventing me from reaching my goals. Until I have established goals and created a spending plan I felt like a person who was just aimlessly driving around, hoping that somehow I would arrive somewhere. But when I started budgeting, planning and took control of the money that was coming in and out, I felt like someone who knows exactly where they’re going and has mapped out a shortest path on how to get there.
Please feel free to reach out or comment if you have questions or would like to learn more about budgeting.