Sometimes it feels like a dirty, dirty word. Just saying it out loud makes people contort their face in disgust. It can be a dreaded, if not the most dreaded part of getting your finances on the right track. And since it is usually the first step in taking control of your money, it is also the thing they may taunt you to give up. It doesn’t have to be though. Learning how to embrace your budget and stick with it, gives you all the more edge when playing the finance game.
Do I need an attitude adjustment? Yes, please.
My first foray into the budgeting world started with my desire to get myself on the road to financial independence. I knew I needed to make a budget, but I really didn’t want to. To be completely honest, I was not the least bit excited about working out a budget. At the time, I felt a budget meant restricting my freedom to buy what I wanted, to do what I wanted. It was all so confining.
Then reality walked in and smacked me in the face.
I was already confined by our spending habits. We were in the ridiculous cycle of buying things we didn’t have real money for with our credit cards and when payday came and the credit cards and the bills were paid, there wasn’t enough to last to the next paycheck, so out came the credit cards again. I wasn’t saving for retirement, uh... I wasn’t even saving for vacations. How financially free could I possibly be with all my money going to other people?
Of course, making a budget doesn’t automatically solve that problem, but it’s a start.
It’s gonna take patience and time. To do it, to do it right.
George Harrison knew what he was talking about. Okay, maybe not the best song to sample since he's singing about wooing a gal by spending a whole lotta money, but it is still going to take patience and time to do it right.
It’s true that the beginning can be frustrating. Unexpected things are going to pop up, money you thought was going to go to one category is going to have to shifted to another. It's not going to start off perfectly, almost nothing ever does on the first attempt, but it will finally click one day. Don't give up too quickly.
Take a cue from Ol’ Blue Eyes and do it your way!
I did it my way! There is never any one way to budget, but there is a ton of great advice out there for you to pick and choose from. Custom tailor a budget that will work for you and your needs. Whether it is a yearly or monthly budget to a zero-based budget, it's up to you. What worked for me might not necessarily work for someone else and vice versa. It’s your money, it’s your life, and you would know best what is happening in that department.
If your budget isn’t working for you, don't be afraid to change a part of it. You don’t have to throw the whole thing out, because of one mistake. I must have tweaked and rearranged our first, second and third budgets a thousand times. Heck, I still change things around from time to time and I’ve consistently had a budget for almost two years now. Like most things in life, it’s an ongoing process that will never be completely finished, but it also gets easier with time.
All right, I'll admit it. Budgeting is not the most glamorous or even fun side to getting your finances in check. However, it does lead you down that path where you are excited about paying off debt, saving for that epic trip, or just simply having more money than month. It's that first, albeit agonizing, step that needs to be taken to achieve your financial goals. Quit agonizing about it and just try it, it may just open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.
This post is part of Women's Money Week 2012. For more posts about budgeting see Today's Roundup