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I have been budgeting for the last two years consistently. Budgeting isn’t something that I would say is a ton of fun unless you are a huge nerd. (Like me.) I am slightly obsessive about my budget. But I know that not everyone has the desire to track everything that closely.
I asked what people’s first thought was when it came to a budget. So many people said that to them, a budget mean restrictions, only buying what you need, cutting out fun, or simply STRESS. When I talk to people about having a budget, the usual response I get is “I know I need to be better with my money, but I just like having fun too much.” or “I prefer to just have fun and see what happens.”
I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), if you don’t have a written budget of some kind, you are NEVER going to hit your financial goals unless someone else manages your money for you. If you associate a budget with having zero fun this post might just be for you.
I still remember when I first started budgeting consistently. In 2017, I was living with 2 other girls and we ALWAYS had Sunday girl’s nights. I never once stopped budgeting for them while we were living together. Instead, I just started putting money aside for it so I knew that the money was there. We started doing more budget friendly items, but didn’t stop having girl’s night until we moved.
In the past two years, I have budgeted and worked my way out of debt and into working 3 days a week. I am getting ready to buy a house with less stress, but I have had a ton of fun memories along the way!
A budget DOESN’T mean that you can’t have fun. Here is what it does instead.
1. Tells you that you have enough money to cover your bills
When you are first setting up your budget, you might be a little overwhelmed at all of the things that you pay for every month. I recommend sitting down with a monthly calendar and your bank statement and listing out all of the expenses that get withdrawn from your account. If you need help setting up a budget, here is a mini guide on creating a simple budget.
Let me tell you, that when I have sat down with a few people, they are surprised at the few things that actually come out of their account. After paying off all of my debt and before buying my house, I only have 8 reoccurring bills every month. This was a huge relief to me! Some people are surprised at how many things come out of their account that they didn’t know they were paying for. When reviewing your budget for the first time in a while, you might find that there are a ton of extra subscriptions that you don’t need anymore. Cancel those and save yourself some money!
When you have a simple written budget, it can tell you that your income exceeds the amount that you pay in bills every month! This is the goal! If you don’t have a written budget, you may have no idea if you are actually making enough money!
2. Gives you permission to spend what is leftover on fun
When you see that after bills, you actually have some money left, you may wonder where you were spending it. If you are anything like me, you might be surprised with how much money you do have left in your budget. The first time I created a budget, I found more than $1,000 extra dollars that I had been carelessly spending on restaurants and who knows what else. I didn’t stop going out to eat with friends, but I was more careful with how much I was spending. I stopped going as often, which allowed me to actually enjoy the times I did go.
Just because I was on a budget, doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. I had plenty of fun while I was working on paying off my debt. A budget should be a marathon, not a sprint. Cutting every fun thing out of your budget permanently is NOT sustainable and it will NOT work.
Things I did DURING while I was paying off debt because it was in the budget!
- Went to a concert and made a weekend of it!
- Got a $200 side tattoo
- Took a week off to help with my hometown fair
- Spent a weekend with my grandma over three hours away
- Ate at restaurants once or twice a week
- Put new tires on my Jeep (in cash)
- Ran a half marathon
- Got my hair dyed professionally
- Purchased an Xbox for my little brother for Christmas
- Kept my gym membership and personal trainer for most of my debt free journey.
- Continued to purchase things that I wanted
3. Let’s you start dreaming about the future
I don’t know how many people I talk to who day dream about how much easier life will be in a few years. Maybe it is a millennial things, but maybe it is just hope for a better life. So many people are not saving ANY money because they are in a paycheck to paycheck cycle. When you really start budgeting, you are able to actually start thinking about the future and working towards it.
Most people believe that life will be better in a couple years, but aren’t doing anything to make that come true. When you create a budget, you can start putting money towards your goals and dreams. You can start saving for vacations or paying down those credit cards to give you a little more freedom. When you have a goal for 5 years down the road, writing a budget can help you get there.
I encourage you to start your budgeting session with dreaming. When you really start dreaming about what life will be like in 5 years and then create a plan to get there, it makes budgeting that much more fun.
4. It means that you can give money freely
I have seen so many people start stressing when it comes to Christmas. Not just the expenses that come with the holiday, but all of the companies and organizations that start asking for donations for different causes. It can be so frustrating to feel like you aren’t able to give back to the things that you care about most. When you start freeing up room in your budget, you give yourself the room to give to the things that mean the most to you.
About halfway through paying off my debt, I started tithing regularly and consistently. I give 10% of my income back to my church because it is one of the things I feel strongly about. If you want to know more about my tithing, you can read my whole blog post on why I decided to tithe while I was trying to pay back my debt. As I move forward into my financial journey, I look forward to giving money to other organizations and fun things!
See, Budgeting doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun!
I hope that if you begin to day dream and budget a little bit, then you will see that budgeting doesn’t have to mean that you can’t every do anything fun. In fact, you might actually have more fun. Budgeting for the things you want to do in your life will eliminate some of the stress and guilt behind expensive purchases. When you go to get you hair or nails done, you won’t be thinking about whether or not you are using the electric bill money for this purchase. Instead, you will be able to enjoyed being pampered because you know that you have that money!
Budgeting does take self-discipline, but the reward is SO worth it. If you aren’t currently following my journey, then jump onto my e-mail list so you don’t miss a thing.