You’ve probably heard a lot of trash talk about budgeting over the years. Or maybe you tried budgeting in the past and didn’t stick with it each month. But don’t judge budgeting until you hear us out!
Having a budget is essential to helping you beat debt and win with money. It’s the map you need to get where you want to go in your journey. That’s why we’ve debunked some of the top budgeting myths so you can start winning with money!
10 Budgeting Myths You Might Be Falling For
1. I don’t have time to budget.
If you’re not doing a budget because you don’t think you have the time, consider taking a fresh look at your priorities. You might be surprised at how many “things” you could let go of in order to get your finances back in shape. You know, those things that really aren’t as important as taking control of your money.
It’s true that you might spend a few hours a month mapping out your expenses when you first start budgeting. But after those first few months, it’s pretty much smooth sailing! You’re simply plugging in numbers and letting math do the rest.
2. Making a budget is difficult and I hate math.
Speaking of math, this isn’t rocket science. If you can do basic third-grade math, you can make a budget. Your income minus your outgo needs to equal zero. That’s it!
Seriously, hating math is a pretty lame excuse. Instead of hating math, why not hate being in debt? Don’t stay away from the budget because “math is too hard?” It’s not. Don’t forget our free budgeting app EveryDollar—it does the math for you!
3. Budgeting is boring.
You’d be amazed at how many people don’t make a budget every month because they think it’s boring. You know what else is boring? Credit card statements. And collector calls. And bankruptcy court . . . actually, all of that is pretty awful.
If you’re a free spirit when it comes to budgeting, stop and take a breath. You can do this! Once you get the hang of it, making a budget isn’t bad at all. And as time goes by, you might even find it a little fun. Imagine that! Get your spreadsheet-loving, planner of a spouse or friend to help give you that extra push.
Budgeting is key to helping you get out of debt. And being debt-free? Now that’s fun.
4. I can do a budget in my head.
If you can seriously do a zero-based budget in your head every single month, we’ll assume you’re the most brilliant person on the planet. Could you please help our government make a budget?
A budget in your head isn’t a budget. It’s just a kinda-sorta-vague-idea-of-what’s-being-spent thing. For a budget to work, it needs to be something you can track. And if you’re married and doing a budget in your head, that means only one of you is involved in the decision making—and that’s a definite no-no! You need to be working together.
5. I budget by keeping track of everything I spend.
That’s a start, but it’s not a budget. When you only track spending, you’re always looking at the past and never looking forward.
Your budget is your game plan for the upcoming month. You’re planning what you’ll do with the money you haven’t spent yet. When you keep receipts or use your online bank statements to see what you spent last month, you’re doing just that—looking at last month.
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You need to plan for your future spending while looking at your past spending, not just one or the other. If you’re already tracking your spending, the budget is just a natural next step.
6. A budget is too restrictive.
You don’t want to give up your Saturday morning coffee and bagel at the corner café, we get it. Don’t worry! You can keep your weekly caffeine and schmear combo, just put it in the budget.
What does that mean? When you create your monthly budget, be sure to include things you enjoy. Budget for that weekend treat, Friday night takeout, or trip to the movies. Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. Believe it or not, a budget actually gives you the freedom to spend your money!
7. There are always unexpected expenses, so why bother to budget?
Sure, things can come up unexpectedly. But that doesn’t mean your budget has to suffer because of it! In our experience, things aren’t always as “unexpected” as they seem. You know your friend’s baby shower is coming up next month, you know when your car registration is due, and you know Christmas is in December every year. Be sure to plan for those type of things in your budget.
And if you find you really, truly keep having unexpected costs to cover, add a “miscellaneous” category in your budget. Use it as the catch all you can dip into when something unexpected arises. Just remember not to abuse it.
8. Budgeting means I can’t go out to eat anymore. I hate cooking!
You hate cooking? Join the club! First of all, the rumors are true. You can actually eat at home without having to cook. Keep a rotation of PB&J, soup, tuna and salad on hand, and you’ll be set! But really, it’s worth it to learn how to cook a few good meals. Pro tip: The slow cooker is your friend.
Having a budget doesn’t mean you never set foot in a restaurant again. You just have to budget for it. Add a date night or girls’ night out line item to your budget. Add a column for Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A and everything in between if you want to. The point is, just make sure you have room for it in the budget before you spend any money there.
9. It’s not the right time for me.
Is it ever going to be the right and most optimal time? Not really. Something will always come up. That’s life.
Are you putting off starting a budget just because you have a birthday or anniversary coming up? Don’t let that be your excuse! If anything, you need a budget now more than ever.
A budget helps you figure out how much you want to spend on the gifts and festivities. Sure, every month will look different, but here’s the great thing: You know the date of those holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. They don’t ever change! Put them in your budget months in advance so you can start saving.
10. I make plenty of money . . . I don’t need a budget.
If you think doing a budget is only for people who have trouble making ends meet, think again. Dave has made a budget every month since he went broke nearly 30 years ago. It doesn’t matter if you have $100 to your name or if you’re a millionaire—you need to tell your money where to go. Everyone needs a budget!
We hate that so many people fall for these budgeting myths and excuses, but you don’t have to be one of them! You have the power to take control of your money, all you need to do is take the first step.
Don’t be tricked into thinking you can’t make a change and take control of your money. You can! Sign up for our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, and get started today!