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Budgeting Series, Part II: 8 Reasons Why People Don’t Do A Budget

$1000 Budget PigIf you are reading this it’s most likely because you have at least a passing interest in this financial tool we use called a budget. That’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 it’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 doesn’t it…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. I’ll start by sharing why I chose not to have one for many years. I didn’t do a budget because…

I was blind to my need.

I really didn’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 “come up” (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.

Envelope and dollar signGrowing 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 didn’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. It’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 don’t budget. See yourself in any of them?

“I don’t do a budget because…”

“My spouse doesn’t want to.”

For those who are married, this may be the biggest reason budgets are not created every month. This reason is all about relationship 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.

“I don’t want to be controlled.”

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 they’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 “It’s not in the budget”, “It’s not in the budget”, “It’s not in the budget.” Thus a negative perception develops.

“They don’t work.”

If a budget was tried once and it didn’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 don’t seem to work, which I will talk about in a future post in this series.)

See No Evil“Ignorance is bliss.”

Maybe you really don’t want to know what’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.

“It’s too much work.”

Honestly…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 “No” 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 don’t make it to this point because the first 3-4 months are so hard…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 can’t guarantee doing a budget is going to be easy…just that it will be worth it.

Why did you choose to live without a budget?

Image Credit #1, #2, #3

Next Post: Two Shall Become One: A Case For Financial Togetherness

Prior Post: Ten Awesome Manly Activities

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  1. Great article. Before I had one I had no idea what good a budget was for. Now that I have one, I actually have savings, pay my bills on time, and have fun money. I had no idea how freeing a budget could be. Will never go without one again.

  2. I’m with John – I find bugeting actually gives me freedom. Now I know exactly how much money goes where and how much “fun” money I have to enjoy. Knowing that I’m covered – bills, savings, retirement, etc. – I can use my fun money without guilt. And it feels great. I’ve heard everyone of these reasons from my clients too. 🙂

    • I love guilt free spending! We actually have a category in our budget called “Blow Money.” It’s the money each of us get each month that we can use on anything we want without clearing it with the other person first.

  3. Great article Brian. This is probably one area I really need to work on the most when it comes to my finances. I think just having the basic understanding of where every dollar you earn is going will help me pin point how I can improve it.

    • You are right Chris. When we began to work through our budget for the first few months, I realized how sloppy I had been with my spending. It was a real I opener. But because we were tracking our spending and now knew where the money was going, we could easily make adjustments. Knowledge is power.

  4. I think I’ve (still am actually) use a few of these excuses. My next goal is to start a realistic budget and see where it goes from there.
    I think for me, it’s going to be small steps rather than one big leap.

    • That is how we all have to start out on any goal…with just small steps. The key is that you realize it’s important and are doing something toward correcting the problem area. My goal for next Tuesday’s post is to show how to put a budget together, so stay tuned.

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Good post Brian! We choose to budget because of the freedom it brings us. I know that sounds like a misnomer, but it’s true. When you see where your money is and where it’s going it gives you freedom to make choices. I never used to view it like that and thought that they were controlling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • I couldn’t agree more John. It does seem counterintuitive that something designed to be your guide actually brings freedom. But that is what we have found as well. Thanks for sharing that perspective!


  1. […] Brian from Luke 1428 shares Part 2 in his budgeting series: I Don’t Do a Budget Because. […]

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