When I would think of money and budgeting, it used to bring to mind all the restrictions I’d have to put on myself. I would think of all the money I didn’t have and how much I didn’t have to spend. So I decided to change my attitude toward money, and I discovered that budgeting isn’t about limiting yourself. It’s about removing barriers that are keeping you from what you really want. I believe that budgeting is one sure way to free yourself and open yourself up to new possibilities.
I’ve always been a good saver, but I have always struggled with money and budgeting. My own problems with money and budgeting stemmed from my attitude toward money. I am not a materialistic person; I used to think that having money, or rather chasing money was superficial. I am by far not a superficial person. I never used to think about the long term, but I was very good at saving for fairly immediate goals. Now I realize that my money can be spent in the ways I want to spend it, and that I am the one who dictates that.
The first step to increasing your budgeting capabilities is to be honest with yourself. A lot of people look at their finances and can’t be honest with themselves. Create your budget based on what is happening in your life and your bank account now, not what you hope may be happening in a month or a year. Don’t plan your budget from an ideal. Honesty, as hard as it might be, will save you grief later on. Look at the hard numbers, and deal with what is most immediate first.
Reaching positive results takes progressive thinking and even more so, productive action. When you create a budget, it is easy to only focus only on the necessities and leave out all of the fun stuff. This is why it becomes so hard to stick with the budget that you have created. I say plan your pleasures, which means budget for your indulgences as well as your necessities. If you want to go bungee jumping on your upcoming birthday in 6 months, start figuring out now how you are going to fund that experience. If you are like me and have a shoe addiction, set some money aside for the occasional splurges. Think about how often you shop, and set some perimeters. Saving money by budgeting is all about plotting a course of action so that you are not stuck at the end of the month trying to figure out how to make it to the next paycheck.
Having concrete goals to plan for, to work for and to save for is the best way to follow through once you have created a budget. It is full-proof motivation. Five years ago, I started out with $100 in my savings account, and my take home pay was stunningly low. My goal was to get $5, 000 in the bank in two years. By budgeting, cutting back on what I didn’t need and scaling back on the things I did, I reached my goal a year late, but had $5,000 in savings. Today, I have doubled that amount. Goals, large and small can take you far. I don’t deprive myself of experiences, and I don’t always stay home. I created my budget to mirror what my priorities are. Look at your priorities and then look at where your money is going. They are tied together, and if you adjust your priorities, you will see a shift in your spending habits.
Everyone always says, budget for the unexpected. I totally agree. You should always include a line for unexpected expenses. When I began really thinking about it, I realized what I was doing. I was budgeting for savings. Creating a budget is not only about what I have left over to spend, but mostly about what I have that I can save. Having savings can be freeing, motivating, and encouraging. I am currently planning an intimate wedding, and in the beginning I had all of the money I needed already in my savings. I was not held down by what I didn’t have, but simply how much of my savings I was willing to part with.
I have never felt more secure about my money and budgeting situation then I do today. I have done it by budgeting wisely and following through, living modestly, organizing priorities, and creating goals that I can complete. Having an empowering attitude toward money enables me to live, and budget the way I want.