Sunday, 2 April 2017

Why stop budgeting?


I have to admit the title of this blog--and the book-- is designed to grab your attention.  Lots of people swear by budgeting and I have to admit that when you are inputting your data and filing receipts and adding up columns of figures you are not spending.   But other than that I consider there are definite negatives.    I could make the analogy to dieting, something that many nutritionists now agree doesn't work.    You deprive yourself for a short period of time to fit into a dress or other worthy-to-you goal and then you relax, go off your diet and enjoy your life again.   Short term pain but usually not long term gain.

Budgeting can be like a diet.   Lots of calculating, weighing portions (expenses), trading off chocolate cake . . . for the rest of the meal.   You miscalculate (cheat) on portion size because who could live on that minuscule amount.  You don't like kale but force yourself to eat it.   You avoid social and family functions -- too many embarrassing explanations.  

The problem:   You're following someone else's blueprint.   Their goals are not your goals.   You're being forced to do something -- and you're an adult.   Then there are the categories;   an awful lot seems to end up in miscellaneous.   You buy a hot dog and drink at your son's baseball game.   You pull out your little notebook and dutifully write it down . . . and hope no one notices and asks what you're doing.  Now does that go in the Food category, the Entertainment category (even if your son's team lost and he cried) or does it go in the Children category.   Could you put it in the Health and Wellness category because you and your son had a nice session wherein you built up his self-esteem and reminded him that everyone loses sometimes?

Or your daughter has a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to go to try-outs for a tennis scholarship.   It could change her life, make a difference for her, set her on her path for success BUT it isn't in your budget.   And you have willpower.  And you'll regret it forever.


A more useful habit than budgeting is the not shopping habit.   And it doesn't take any time, in fact it adds to your available time because you're not doing it.   In general, not budgeting works better for those people working towards early retirement or some other goal that you want so much you can almost taste it.    Analyze each expense as it comes along.   Do you really need it, can you get it cheaper elsewhere, can you borrow it?    Use your creativity.   Think!  The internet is great for coming up with solutions.  Some categories, like cable, you might want to delete entirely.

Once you have considered each purchase carefully, keeping in mind your list of dreams, let go of your anxiety.    You're good to go.

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