If you are reading this itâ€™s most likely because you have at least a passing interest in this financial tool we use called a budget. Thatâ€™s a good thing because, as I noted in Part I of this series, even though money is an inanimate object, it exercises tremendous power in our lives. So itâ€™s crucial that we utilize a budget to help us gain the upper hand with our money.
Even though budgets are vitally important to our financial well-being, most at some point in their working life have lived without one. Seems silly doesnâ€™t itâ€¦that we would willingly choose go budget-less if they are so helpful?
There are a variety of reasons someone may choose to live without a budget. Iâ€™ll start by sharing why I chose not to have one for many years. I didnâ€™t do a budget becauseâ€¦
I was blind to my need.
I really didnâ€™t think I needed a budget. The amount of money my wife and I were earning through our jobs seemed to be enough each month. We usually had enough to cover our expenses and have some left over for discretionary spending or to put in savings. Key word in that last sentence was usually.
Usually for us meant about 7 months out of the year. The other five months something would â€ścome upâ€ť (either an emergency or a want) and we would overspend and be forced to dip into our savings to cover the need. But 7 out of 12 is pretty good, right? Better than most people were doing anyway I thought.
I felt it was a hassle.
Growing up, I had parents who were awesome at budgeting. They used an system where they would put cash into envelopes, each one designated for a specific spending category (food, gas, clothing, etc.). They were always checking the envelopes to see how much cash was left for the month in that category. Sometimes towards the end of the month they would run out of cash for a category and then have to figure out what other envelope they could take money from to pay for the needed expense (ex. – take money out of the clothing envelope to pay for gas). Then of course, they had to keep track of how much money they took from that category so they could replenish that envelope on payday.
Like I said, it was an awesome example of how to run a budget – it just seemed like a huge hassle I didnâ€™t want to deal with.
I was lazy.
Really in the end, it was all about laziness and being negligent about an area of my life that was really important. It takes work to put one of these together each month and daily commitment to follow through on it. At the point of my life where I was living without a budget, I had no desire or passion to subject myself to the daily discipline a budget requires. Itâ€™s just where I was in my thinking at the time.
That was my experience. Perhaps yours is different. Here are five other reasons people donâ€™t budget. See yourself in any of them?
â€śI donâ€™t do a budget becauseâ€¦â€ť
â€śMy spouse doesnâ€™t want to.â€ť
For those who are married, this may be the biggest reason budgets are not created every month. This reason is all about relationshipÂ tension that exists between husband and wife. And the tension may not have anything to do with money – it could be a completely separate issue. Whatever the reason, the tension is keeping husband and wife from working together as a team and seeing things eye to eye. Neither person understands the needs or wants of the other and they never get together on this issue.
â€śI donâ€™t want to be controlled.â€ť
This issue comes up because someone has a negative perception about what a budget is for. They view it as a straight jacket or a means of controlling their every spending move. Maybe theyâ€™ve had an over-controlling, budget-Nazi spouse (the Nerd) beat them over the head with it in the past. They feel like they can never have any fun because all they have heard is â€śItâ€™s not in the budgetâ€ť, â€śItâ€™s not in the budgetâ€ť, â€śItâ€™s not in the budget.â€ť Thus a negative perception develops.
â€śThey donâ€™t work.â€ť
If a budget was tried once and it didnâ€™t seem to work, then that person would be less likely to try one again. Even if they know the reason for their failure, it will be difficult to attempt one again. (Incidentally, there are many reasons budgets donâ€™t seem to work, which I will talk about in a future post in this series.)
Maybe you really donâ€™t want to know whatâ€™s going on with your money. Maybe you would be too scared about what you would find if you were to get organized and put a budget together. I know this reason sounds extreme, but I think a good number of non-budgeters feel this way. It would cramp their style of spending if they were forced to be aware of where every dollar went.
â€śItâ€™s too much work.â€ť
Honestlyâ€¦putting a budget together IS hard work. It does require a good amount of time, especially at the beginning. It takes a full-blown commitment for the first 3-4 months before you start to get it right. If you are in a marriage relationship, it will force you to communicate with your spouse which many couples struggle with anyway. (So be ready for a few money fights.) If you are single, you may have to set aside time and get counsel from a mentor who can go over your budget. (So be ready for them to say â€śNoâ€ť about some stuff.)
(The cool little secret about reason #8 is that if you make it through the first 3-4 months then it becomes much easier. After that, it really becomes a matter of tweaking the budget month by month. Now that I have been doing our budget for several years, I only spend about 10 minutes each month putting it together. Quick review by Mrs. Luke1428, make a slight adjustment here or there and we are done. Sadly, many people donâ€™t make it to this point because the first 3-4 months are so hardâ€¦hard in the actual formulation of the budget and hard on the relationship.)
In the end, all these reasons are just excuses for not using a tool that has a tremendous positive impact on our financial life. I canâ€™t guarantee doing a budget is going to be easyâ€¦just that it will be worth it.
Why did you choose to live without a budget?
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