Financial Planning for Women | Leah Manderson Save for the Future, Enjoy Today

Hate Budgeting? Here’s a Better Way…

One of the very first things people talk about when taking control of their finances is the crazy B-word: Budgeting. And for the most part, budgeting your cash is pretty sound advice. Keeping track of where your dollars go is a great way of getting a grasp on your overall financial health. You’re more likely to know how much you spend, what area of your life is taking up the most cash, and you’ll probably get a lesson about your own spending psychology. All around, pretty good stuff.

However, budgeting is NOT necessary for everyone. If you need a complete financial makeover (no shame, girl–just start taking action), you need a budget. If you generally end up with a few bucks at the end of each month, you can certainly do without one.

And frankly, I hate budgets.  I always forget to budget something (wedding gifts, anyone?), have to re-arrange receipts to fit categories (if I picked up food and clothes at Target, how do I fit this bill in the budget categories?), and it’s just plain boring.

I can say with honest conviction, and true know-how that I hate budgets, because I had to use one for a few years.

Not so long ago, I didn’t make very much money. While I could cover my living expenses, I had to budget nearly every dollar I had. At that particular time in my life, I NEEDED a budget. My dollars-in, dollars-out was so tight that I had to make sure not to overdraw.

During that time, I used Mint.com–the online budgeting service that tracks your spending in real-time. I logged in daily to check my progress, and it was very helpful in keeping me on track.

Now, however, I’ve secured a great job in a better-paying field, have established some pretty good spending habits (and ditched some bad ones), and have created a cushion in my checking account.

Instead of tracking my SPENDING, I diligently track my SAVING. My theory? Once I’ve saved for my big goals like retirement and a house down-payment, I can spend the rest 100% guilt free.

For an illustration of why this works, compare budgeting to dieting. If you need to lose weight, it’s in your benefit to track your calories in and calories out. That’s a key indicator in your success. If, however, you are a normal, healthy, active person; tracking your calories is a waste of time. Instead of needing calorie information to make your good decisions, you have likely formed habits that keep you in check.

To my mind, this is the same for budgeting. If you are unable to pay your bills, have a lot of high-interest debt, or have patterns of overspending, you’ll benefit a TON by budgeting your cash (try Mint.com or the anti-budget in my 7-day mini e-mail program). If, instead, you have a couple of financial “problem areas,” try a savings-focused budget.

Here’s a quick and easy way to set up a saving-focused budget.

  • To make sure you pay yourself first, decide what percentage of your paycheck you’ll put toward each account

    1. Start by saving at least 10% in your regular bank savings account. This will set you up with an “Oh Sh*t Fund” for unexpected bills, as well as any other savings goals like a wedding, a car, or a chic trip to Paris.
    2. If your employer has a 401(k) program, contribute up to the match (it’s free money–don’t let it get away!)
    3. Put everything else in checking and live your damn life
    4. If you have anything leftover at the end of the month, add it to your savings account or pay down any big debts you have.
  • Have your employer to set up automated deposits into each account.

    Most companies will distribute your income across any number accounts you could dream of! Make them do the work for you so you’re not always wondering whether or not you made the right transfers.

If, of course, you just love budgeting–HAVE AT IT! What works for me might not work for you.

Keep going for your dreams, ladies. If you hate budgeting like me, try out this savings-focused “budget” technique instead and let me know what you think!

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15 Responses to “Hate Budgeting? Here’s a Better Way…”

  1. [...] Hate Budgeting? Here’s a Better Way… @ Dollar Darlings [...]

  2. My Homepage says:

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  3. [...] already made it clear that I hate budgeting and I don’t do it. It’s time-consuming, guilt-inducing, and focuses on the wrong [...]

  4. [...] should come as no surprise that the girl who hates budgeting doesn’t use coupons to save money on food. I’m glad we’re figuring each other [...]

  5. [...] How to create a savings-focused budget [...]

  6. [...] up a direct deposit so that a portion of your paycheck goes towards your savings each month.  If you don’t see it, you won’t spend [...]

  7. Laura says:

    I truly hate budgeting. It just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I have decided to do something similar to what you suggest. For starters, I just curb my spending so I know that I’m not spending frivolously. And then on each pay day I just make sure to move money into my savings account, Roth IRA, etc and all the rest of the money just goes into my checking account.

    • Budgeting was a necessary evil for me when I was living on $28K. Now that there’s more leeway, it’s easier to focus on the big wins like saving for emergencies/investing, and spending the rest. A big step, too, though, is realizing that what goes into savings DOESN’T come out, unless it’s for its intended purpose!

  8. Mark Ross says:

    That’s sounds like a great plan. I really like saving money more than budgeting ever since I learned about the two. I think it’s easier to save than make all those budget plans.

  9. I like the focus of this post on doing what will have the greatest impact, depending you your situation.

    I don’t budget either. It’s a waste of time and tends to lead one to pay yourself last…if there’s anything left over. I also find that it seems to entitle someone to spend everything in a given category, as opposed to consider whether a given item is really a necessary/desirable purchase to begin with.

    10% savings does not seem like enough to me to save for all the big stuff AND retirement. If you don’t save for retirement through work, you need more than that savings rate.

    • Oooh, juicy point “I also find that it seems to entitle someone to spend everything in a given category, as opposed to consider whether a given item is really a necessary/desirable purchase to begin with.”

      There’s are several MAJOR “consumer” mindset shifts that have to happen when you start focusing on building wealth, which can’t really be taught through budgeting. Wealthy people focus on value versus cost, quality over quantity, and the true necessity of a purchase. Although I hate to compare it to dieting, it’s true: often the QUALITY of the calories matter more than the actual thing you eat. Or, 250 calories in chicken and veggies is better than 250 calories in apple pie. The beginning dieter thinks that 250 calories is 250 calories. The experienced healthy individual knows the difference in quality–and when not to “budget around” calories.

      Awesome comment, FTP!

      • Exactly. The focus needs to be on spending for maximum quality, not having the goal of spending your entire budget by category each month. If that’s the goal, I’d rather not meet it, thank you very much!

  10. Callie says:

    My company nor my husbands company has a 401K. We have a savings account that we use for emergencies and big home repairs but we’d like to start saving for retirement. What are your suggestions when it comes to an IRA?

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