How to Budget When You Hate Budgeting

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Damn you, budget!

Yes, I’ve spoken those words. And not just once. Many times over the years. 

My relationship with my budget isn’t always easy. Sometimes I hate my budget.

There are times I’ve felt like a failure when I go over my budget. Or times where my budget feels like it’s holding me back from having fun.

Budgeting can be tough. 

But over the years, I’ve learned that the importance of budgeting outweighs the struggles. And I’ve figured out how to budget during those times when I hate my budget. 

Budgeting has truly changed my life and I want it to help you too.

So if you are struggling to budget or have hated budgeting in the past, here are a few tips on how to create a budget you don’t hate and one that works for you. 

Let’s start by looking at the importance of having a budget.

Why is it Important to Have a Budget

A budget is a spending plan that helps you take control of your finances

It will help you:

  • Save more money
  • Get out of debt
  • Reduce your money stress
  • Tackle financial emergencies with ease
  • Feel good about your spending
  • Be the boss of your money

With a budget, you will spend less on the things that don’t matter and more on the things you care about. 

And guess what, budgets don’t have to be complicated or restricting to help you reach your money goals.

You don’t have to hate your budget. 

5 Tips to Help you Budget When You Hate Budgeting

If you want to budget, but find yourself dreading the task, then here are 5 tips to get you started.

1. Determine Your Why for Budgeting

The biggest thing that will keep you motivated to budget (while not hating it), is knowing the reason why you want to budget in the first place

What is the reason you decided to start living on a budget? 

Do you want to feel better about your money? Do you want to get out of debt? Do you want to save up for a house or vacation?

Think about what is motivating you to take control of your money through a budget 

Whatever it is, come back to it each time you start hating your budget.

When you do this, you will feel less hatred towards your budget and will be more likely to stick to the budgeting process.

2. Give Yourself Time to Create a Budget You Can Stick With

Here is what often happens when you first start budgeting:

You set your spending goals for each expense category in your budget based on what you think you “should” be spending. Then as the month progresses, you find that you have overspent in many, if not all of your budget categories. 

This is one of the most frustrating parts of starting a budget. 

In my early days of budgeting, I didn’t fully understand my expenses. I had never tracked my spending before. 

Therefore, when I budgeted $200 a month for groceries and burned through that in two weeks, I felt frustrated and hated my budget.

It’s likely that you find yourself feeling the same way when you miscalculate your expenses. And sometimes you may want to give up on budgeting altogether. 

You feel like you failed and that budgeting is not for you. 

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The reality is that you just need time to get to know your spending habits a bit better. And once you have gotten intimate with your spending habits you can make a realistic budget that you can stick with.

When we first start budgeting, we don’t have a clue what our true expenses are. 

And when we don’t have a good understanding of how much we spend on things like groceries, it’s difficult to assign spending amounts that we can stay within. 

Therefore, we find ourselves constantly overspending and feeling like a budgeting failure. 

Understanding our expenses is the key to building a realistic budget that works with our actual spending habits instead of trying to completely change them. 

I’ll be honest, it will take time to understand what you spend your money on. 

To help you from feeling like a budgeting failure, just know that it’s normal to constantly tweak your budget as you figure out how you spend your money. 

Overspending does not mean you are a budgeting failure. It means that you need to look at your budget and ask yourself why the overspending happened and make the proper budgetary changes.

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3. Make Sure to Build Some Fun Into Your Budget

Nobody likes a fun-hater, especially in the form of a budget. 

When you create your budget, build in some fun money. 

So often when we create our budgets we are only thinking about our bills and the savings goals we want to meet. 

We forget to include categories that help us enjoy the life we are living right now. 

A simple way to do this is to create a category in your budget called “fun money”. This is a bucket of money that you can use for whatever you want.  

4. Keep Your Budget Flexible

The way we spend our money is a reflection of our priorities.

And your budget reflects your priorities at a certain place in time. 

We can only guess what our priorities might be in the future.

And as we all know, the unexpected happens and priorities change. All. Of. The. Time.

Your air conditioner may clunk out or an opportunity to take a vacation you didn’t originally plan for may pop up.  

Know that if your current plan doesn’t account for this new priority, it doesn’t mean you can’t figure out a way to make room for it, as long as it aligns with your priorities. 

An air-conditioner may be a huge priority for you in the middle of a hot summer or a vacation may be exactly what you need to recharge. It’s ok to shift priorities. 

Your budget will help you see the big picture of your finances, now and into the future, to help you shift your priorities when needed.  

For example, recently, I was saving money each month for home repairs that I would likely need to occur at least five years from now. But suddenly I found myself wanting to buy a campervan. 

After looking at my budget I realized I couldn’t save for both if I wanted to have a campervan in the next few years. And I really wanted a campervan. 

Therefore I decided to divert the money I was saving for my long-term home repairs to a campervan for the next year. Once I saved enough for the campervan, I would go back to saving for my home repairs and still have plenty of time to save enough before I need to make the repairs. 

Changing your mind on where your money is going is ok. Our lives and dreams are ever-changing. And our budgets need to stay flexible to account for this. 

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5. Reframe Your Thinking By Turning “I Can’t Spend” Into “I’m Choosing Not To Spend”

This last one is a powerful tip to help you feel in harmony with your budget instead of hating it. 

Think of your budget as a tool to guide your money decisions.

If you think of your budget as a be-all-end-all decision-maker telling you what you can and can’t spend your money on, you probably aren’t going to stick to budgeting for long.

Your budget is there to help you see the trade-off between one expense and another. It’s helping you choose to either spend or not to spend based on your priorities.

And when you think of your budget as a tool to help you make an intentional spending choice, it feels empowering instead of simplifying telling you “you can’t spend”. 

So next time your budget is telling you that you can’t spend the money, ask yourself why you think you can’t spend the money. More often than not you will see that it’s not that you can’t spend the money. It’s that you are simply choosing not to spend the money because there is a more urgent priority right now. 

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You Got This

Your relationship with your budget may not always be perfect. There are definitely times you are going to hate your budget.

But hang in there. Budgets are an important part of your financial health. 

And with these tips, you can work through the hard times and feel good about what your budget can do for you.

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Picture of Melody Creator of Cash for Tacos

Hi! I’m Melody and I want to help you create a vision for your life and provide you the necessary tools to use your money to make your vision a reality. 

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