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What Is a Budget?

The word budget can get a bad rap. People think budgets are hard, time-consuming and restricting. Sure, it can take a couple months to get used to the process of budgeting. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll see why using a budget is so worth it. Because budgeting doesn’t tell you not to spend. It gives you permission to spend the right way—to show your money who’s boss.

So, what is a budget anyway? Let’s find out.

A budget is just a plan. It’s not a restriction on spending—it’s a plan for what you’ll do with your money. It’s a plan for what’s coming in and what’s going out. When you budget every month, you’re giving your money purpose. You’re taking control.

Why Should I Budget?

Listen. You work too hard for your money to wonder where it all went. With a budget, you won’t have thoughts like, Why can’t I pay my freaking bills every month? I make too much to be this broke.


Start budgeting with EveryDollar today!

Like we said, a budget is a plan for your income and expenses. When you budget, you see what you make and what you spend. And if you find out you’re spending more than you make, you can adjust so you stop overspending.

You can make a change—you just have to know where to start. You can take control of your money—you just need a budget!

Budget Myths

You’ve probably heard plenty of excuses on why you can’t or shouldn’t budget. We have too. Let’s see if there’s any truth behind four popular budget myths.

Budget Myth 1: Budgeters Don’t Have Fun or Buy Nice Things

Let’s go ahead and stamp a giant false on that one. Listen, budgeting doesn’t mean you never spend money. It means you plan for how you spend money so you do it like a responsible adult. So, you budget for fun. And you always budget for the things you need before all the things you want.

Budget Myth 2: Budgeters Have to Be Good at Math

If you didn’t top the charts with your ACT math scores, that’s no excuse to skip budgeting. Everyone needs to budget—no matter their school subject strengths or weaknesses. Also, we have good news. If you don't love math, there’s an app for that. It's called EveryDollar, and you can try it when you start a free trial to Ramsey+. By doing the math for you, Ramsey+ and EveryDollar help you take the stress and worry out of budgeting. 

Budget Myth 3: Only People Struggling With Their Money Need a Budget

No. You want to know who needs a budget? Everyone.

Really. You need a budget if you’re living paycheck to paycheck (with all your money going out as soon as it comes in). And you need a budget if you have some savings but want to manage your money even better, if you want to crush your goals quicker, if you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, or if you’ve never even looked at a credit card.

Seriously—everyone needs a budget. Because a budget helps you get ahead of your money, take control of your money goals, punch debt in the teeth and knock it out of your life forever, and so much more. No matter if you’re struggling or feeling pretty good about your finances—a budget is for you.

Budget Myth 4: Budgeting Takes Too Much Time

First of all, you can’t afford not to spend time budgeting. Your future financial success depends on it!

Secondly, remember that app? EveryDollar saves you time too. Because one of the premium budgeting features you get inside Ramsey+ is automatic bank transactions. Once you connect your bank to your budget, your transactions stream right in. You just have to drag and drop them to the right budget line. So, in summary, budgeting does take some time (worth it). But it doesn’t have to take too much time (thanks to Ramsey+).

The Best Way to Budget

There are lots of ways to budget out there, but we have a proven method. It’s called zero-based budgeting—which is when all your income minus all your expenses equals zero. And when you use a zero-based budget, you give every dollar a name, a job, a purpose.

Here’s how it works: All the money going out should be the same amount as the money coming in. So, if you make $5,000 a month, you’re giving all $5,000 a job: paying bills, saving money, paying off debt, and living life! When you add in every source of income and then subtract every single expense, your budget should end up at zero.

Here’s an important callout: Your bank account should never hit zero. Keep a little buffer in your checking account of about $100–300, depending on what works for you.

But your budget should hit zero every month. Because you’re budgeting all those dollar bills. Every. Single. One. Anything that’s “extra” doesn’t stay extra. Put it to good use working for you—every last dollar of it. That’s how you get your money actions in line with your money goals.  

Guess what? It’s way easier to budget when you’ve got a budgeting tool. And it’s way, way easier when that tool is mobile and built on the zero-based budgeting method.

That’s EveryDollar.

Because budgeting can be hard and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. Get the budgeting tool that helps you make real changes with your money—and your life! Start your free trial of Ramsey+ and test-drive those premium EveryDollar features today.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners.

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