I’ve tried a variety of budgeting strategies and techniques that did not work out the way I wanted. Some are actual products and some are ideas. All I wanted a successful budget. One of my big struggles was how I thought about budgeting.
I started out with the idea that a written budget would help me get my finances in order. This was not the case. I had several problems with my first several written budget attempts. I had several problems with my attempts at the written budget. At first, I thought it was because my budget wasn’t detailed enough and didn’t have all of the categories I needed it to cover. Eventually, I came to realize it wasn’t my budget that had problems. The problem was how I thought about my budget.
I saw my written budget as just another “adult” task I thought I just needed to do. I’ll give you guys a little hint: if you don’t actually follow the budget, the budget won’t work. My mentality at that point was that a budget is more of a guideline. What I needed was to see my budget as a tool to help get my finances under control. My budget was my road map to my future. The future that I wanted to have, and could have, if I had better control of my money.
After I realized this, I was able to create a budget I would actually follow because I knew why I was budgeting. I wasn’t just budgeting because I felt the need to act like an adult (because I still don’t have that down). Now I was budgeting because I wanted to have a future with a custom home, children, and no debt. I still struggle with days of lacking the passion I had in the beginning but I’m closer today to my goals than I was yesterday. And if I follow my budget, I’ll be closer tomorrow, too.
This way of thinking helped me to make significant strides in my money management skills. I faced the reality of my student debt, my savings goals, and how to work toward my future goals. I want those things so much more than I want anything in the dollar bins at Target or the clearance section of Walmart. I want those things more than I want a new living room suite (or any type of matching furniture), a new car, or the newest electronic gizmo. One day, I can buy those things with cash and I won’t owe anyone money. Until then, I’m budgeting to buy my future.
What was a major turning point in your path to financial freedom?
How were you able to commit to your budget or savings goals?