Do you carry a lot of financial stress when it comes to your family or personal budget? Or would you rather avoid that stress altogether, and still gain control over your financial future and reach your goals?
Here is an in-depth look at how making (and sticking to) a budget grants you the freedom you need to finally get what you want!
Dispelling the Myths
There are a lot of negative notions and myths surrounding the word “budget.” Let’s dispel some of those myths once and for all.
Sure, budgeting isn’t the most exciting thing you could be doing, but it isn’t necessarily as boring as you might think it is. When your saved dollars start adding up and you can picture yourself closer and closer to your goals, it’s actually pretty cool. Then once you reach your goal (say, a family vacation to the beach), budgeting suddenly becomes one of the most exciting things you could have done with your time.
It Takes Too Long
Yes, it can take a few hours to gather all of your information, come up with a viable plan, and input it all into a program. Keep in mind, though, that it doesn’t all have to be done at once. Break it up into manageable tasks, turn on some funky music, and enlist your partner to help you get through it.
It’s Too Complicated
Budgeting can be as complicated or as straightforward as you want If you are ready to delve deeply into every aspect of your finances, go for it! If you just need a basic rundown of your income and expenses, then it’s not complicated at all. In fact, not having a budget set up is when things get messy real fast.
I Can Do It In My Head
A budget in the head isn’t a budget—it’s a vague idea. For a budget to be legit, it has to be tracked (on paper or using some kind of budgeting software) month after month. Plus, you need to plan ahead to really get a full picture of your financial health. Sit down and get all those jumbled, random numbers out of your head. You won’t only feel much better and think much clearer, but you’ll be surprised at how inaccurate your in-your-head budget has been all along.
I Will Feel Too Restricted
What’s even more restricting than sticking to a budget? Debt, interest, creditors, and a bad FICO score. If you ever find yourself in this ugly place, you’ll realize just how incredibly restricting it is. Instead of thinking of a budget as a punishment, think of it as a reward to your future self.
Moving From Financial Dependence to Financial Independence
No one wants to be a slave to their salary. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is no one’s dream. Having control over your cash so it doesn’t control you is what budgeting is all about. Having the financial freedom to live your life how you choose should be at the top of everyone’s dream list.
Here are a few ways you will benefit from budgeting.
Knowing What You Actually Have
Guessing what money you actually have to spend is a game that never pays off. Do you know what does pay off? That’s right…knowing!
It’s all too easy to take a misstep or two and then suddenly you don’t know where your next mortgage payment is coming from. Keeping accurate income and expense information will show you, straight up, if you have all your bases covered before you spend all your income without realizing it.
Understanding What It Takes To Get What You Want
There are plenty of things you could do with your money. Pay off your student loans? Save for a new car? Pay for your kids to take music lessons? Take that epic second honeymoon you’ve been planning?
You’ll never find yourself with the money it takes to pay for these amazing goals unless they become the focus of why you’re setting up and following a budget. It’ll be surprisingly easy to keep your spending and saving focused on what you really want.
Finally Having Some Fun Money
Having some guilt-free spending money to use however you wish sounds nice, doesn’t it? The thing is, you probably already do this…only it’s not budgeted. Spending this way often leaves you feeling guilty and strapped. When your out-of-pocket money is a real line on your budget, you can finally feel the freedom of spending it.
Budget Tips, Tricks, and Tools
To get you started on the right foot, here are a few tips to follow, tricks to know, and tools to use.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
It’s extremely helpful for staying on budget if everyone in your household is informed on and supportive of it. If only one person is doing the planning and enforcing, resentment on both sides begins to grow. Everything will be much easier to manage if you’re working with each other instead of against.
When deciding which goal to work toward together, make sure it’s a SMART one:
Use a Personal or Family Budget Worksheet or Planner
There’s an answer to the question, “How do I keep track of all of this?!” and it’s a simple one. Use a free tool! There are many great options out there, already set up and ready for you to just plug in your numbers. Categories have already been created and calculations will tally your totals automatically.
All you need to do is download one of the following that fits your needs and you’re ready to begin:
- Personal Budget Spreadsheet
- Family Budget Template
Using either a family budget planner or a personal budget worksheet takes most of the effort out of setting up and tracking your budgets, making it much more likely to succeed.
Budget a Buffer
No matter your budgeting style, you should always plan for the unexpected expense because one always seems to turn up. Include a buffer line in your monthly budget. If you find a frequently occurring unexpected expense hitting that buffer, it’s time to graduate that expense to a budget line all its own.
Automate Everything (but Double Check It)
Set up as many of your bills as possible on an automatic payment schedule. This shortens the time it takes you to balance your checkbook every month, saves you potential late fees, and frees you from having to remember if you paid everything. Just be sure to do a quick monthly check to make sure each bill cleared correctly.
Set a recurring calendar appointment every week or two for looking at how your spending is coming along. When mistakes and overages are caught early, not only are they easier to fix, but it’s easier to get them back on track, too.
Reevaluate if you have budgeted each category correctly and realistically. Make adjustments as needed.
If You Need It, Don’t Wait To Get Help
Even when following a strict budget and possessing the best intentions, there may be a time when you need a little help making ends meet. This happens most often when a large, unexpected expense comes up such as a car repair bill or medical expense.
It’s important to realize early on in the situation that you may need some temporary help to get back on solid ground. That’s when it may be time to look into getting a fast and simple installment loan. With same-day approval and affordable interest rates, this can be a great solution to your shortchange problem.
With the myths dispelled and the tips and tools to help, you will now be able to make your own budget, stay on track to reach your goals, and be able to enjoy the wonderful, untethered feeling that comes with financial freedom.