My Budgeting Strategy
Budgeting isn’t exactly my favorite word in the financial dictionary. I typically like to refer to it as “the B-word” because I know how it makes people feel, including myself. Seriously, when you hear the word “budget” how often do you shudder and think to yourself “ugh, I should really have one of those…”
Am I right?!
Some days I try to convince myself that budgets are bad (these are usually the days where my budget doesn’t go exactly as planned, or I forget I have one altogether). Other days, I’m so on top of my shit, I get hyper organized, and I’m hitting my budgeted numbers left and right, with room leftover. Having a budget just. feels. right.
So perhaps I’m not the best “budgeter” per se. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you. In fact, several of my podcast guests recommend a budget in many different ways and have fantastic tips on sticking to your budget, while some other guests never mention it at all.
Regardless of your choice to keep a budget or not, there are two things I always recommend to my students and clients when it comes to tracking and gaining control of your money, and they happen in a two-step process.
That’s right, just two steps!
Step number one is to simply be aware.
It’s all about that one word, awareness. Build awareness around your money, pay attention to where it goes, and you will start setting your own B-Word without even knowing it.
“Oh, all of a sudden that Visa credit card has $750 on it, usually I’m only at $400, WTF is going on?!”
That’s all it takes. You just budgeted yourself. Yes, maybe it’s the most general sense of the word, but it’s a start.
It’s all about building awareness in order to begin. Check your bank and credit card statements once a week for about 10 minutes. Tally up how much you spent on going out for lunch or buying shoes, don’t worry about setting boundaries, just tally and be aware of the number you hit each week.
Step number two: give your money a home.
Now that you’ve built awareness around your money and where it's going, let’s give it a place to go with meaning. It’s like controlling a crowd in a large event space, but instead of “crowd control” it’s “money control.”
I'm sorry, that's the best analogy I could come up with. You're now a bank account bouncer. You sit on a stool with a RBF (urban dictionary it) and when cute girls try to sweet-talk their way in for free, you say "All good things in life ain't free sweetie" without even the slightest hint of a smirk, and take their five bucks. **You're unbreakable!**
....okay now I'm really sorry! Back to step two:
Someone once said to me, “If we don’t tell our money where to go, it will just go.”
“Go where?” I asked. And that’s exactly it, it will just go. You won’t know where it’s going because you’re not giving it a home.
The first step of your B-Word is to be aware of your money and where it’s mindlessly flowing, and the second step is to tell it where to go with gumption.
You might think, “Well, why should I tell my money where to go when all of it has to go to pay off my debt anyway?” Well then, YOU get to have the power to tell your money to go to your student loan debt each month. You have so much control over your money that you tell it to pay off that credit card. Then you decide when it flows to that shoe fund and how it gets allocated to your social life.
It’s your money and you need to claim control over it and tell it where it goes.
And this isn’t just for you’re spending. You also need to guide the money you have earned to your savings goals, your investments, and even designate it to just sit and do absolutely nothing from time-to-time.
Your money needs meaning, and you have all the power and control to give it that meaning.
In my next post, I’ll walk you through my saving strategy—how I go about saving for my big goals in life. It’s so easy, you can set it up within a couple hours.
My challenge to you this week is to start building awareness around your money. Check in on it like you used to check in on that toddler you once babysat in 8th grade. Make sure it’s not eating away at all your chances at freedom by way of makeup from Sephora and Lululemon yoga pants. Unless that’s what freedom means to you, then by all means…
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