Budgets or the line at the DMV: Which is Worse?

Budgets sound like they are NO FUN. They sound like they are as much fun as going to the DMV, except that you don’t need a budget to drive a car…so maybe you can skip that particular adult task? No. No, you cannot.
I am betting that even the word budget makes you feel guilty. And maybe a little scared. I used to feel exactly the same way. I thought that if I had a budget, then I was certainly going to go over that budget every month, and then instead of feeling vaguely guilty about something that I didn’t really know about I would have a real reason to feel guilty for mismanaging my finances. If I didn’t have a plan, I couldn’t feel bad about not following the plan, right?

Except that…without a plan, how would I be able to save for things I really want? You’ll notice that I have wanted Lasik for seven years now. If I had made a budget seven years ago, I would be staring at this screen with contact-free eyes! I wouldn’t have to keep buying contacts and glasses (goodbye, money….) But let me tell you, my left eye is a little itchy because I am wearing my contacts right now….and I will keep on wearing them for a  while longer, and it is my own fault for not having a budget. Or maybe a currently unknown rich relative’s fault for not dying and leaving me massive amounts of money.

Without a plan, you are much more likely to overspend and get yourself into debt that you could have avoided in the first place.Without a plan, how do you know if you can afford to do the things you want to do? I wanted to join a pretty swanky gym when I moved to my neighborhood. I had never joined a gym before because I thought it would be too expensive, but because I had a budget, I figured out that I could afford the membership (hellooooo sauna!)Do you have any habits that you only do occasionally, like take taxis instead of buses? How much is it costing you? How do you know, unless you track where your money is going? I don’t have a car, and before I had a budget I felt guilty every single time I took a cab instead of waiting for the bus. EVERY TIME. But you know what? Now I have budgeted cab money into my monthly plan. I can take as many cabs as fit in my budget, and I never have to feel bad about it! Once I have used up my monthly cab budget, then it is bus stopville for me….but until then, I have given myself permission to stop feeling guilty about spending on luxuries because I know exactly how much I am spending and I also know that I can afford it. It is an amazingly liberating feeling.

Also, I know that if I do badly on following my budget one month…well, it is a guide for myself and only for myself. I’m not getting graded. So there is always next month, and I can always reassess and adjust my budget as need be.

Budgets sound terrible, but they are really freeing. They free you from feelings of guilt. When you budget for everything you HAVE to pay for (stupid electricity bill) and everything you SHOULD pay for (emergency fund, investments) then everything you have left over is yours to do WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH.
ANYTHING AT ALL (within the budget, of course).
Want to spend the remainder of your budget playing penny slots after flying first class to Vegas on a whim? You are being totally responsible! That is a legitimate way to spend your money because you already took care of all of your responsibilities! WOOHOO!
Don’t you feel better? Don’t you want to make a budget? Aren’t budgets fun? Isn’t Vegas fun?
Don’t worry, I’ll discuss exactly how to make a budget soon. Stay tuned!


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