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Why budgeting is more about goals and freedom than dollars and cents

Why budgeting is more about goals and freedom than dollars and cents

January 31, 2018

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Budgeting should be more about achieving your personal goals than just hitting a financial number


In my own experience, the majority of people think of budgeting backwards.

Rather than seeing it create opportunity, they think of restrictions.  They focus more on what they CAN'T do rather than what they CAN do.

If this is you, not only are you missing the mark, but you're creating a very cynical world for yourself! Budgeting is a good thing! Finding a way to budget that makes sense for you should get you excited! It’s a way to accomplish some of your goals, spend more time with friends and family and be free from stress.

People have been conditioned to perceive budgeting as something to dread, and many avoid it at all costs! I often find this mindset is rooted in one of two things:  they tend to shy away from numbers, or they're afraid of facing what's really going on financially.

In a world where your future life goals rely heavily on your financial goals, I don't think either is a good excuse.

This post is REALLY critical - it will show you why lots of us can see budgeting for what it really is, and how to make it as painless as possible.

My own budgeting experience

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My wife and I sat down in January to discuss our yearly budgeting goals. This was a time to discuss some of the goals that we wanted to accomplish this year.

As always, it opened up a great conversation where we discussed things that expanded beyond budgeting. It was a way to bring up dreams and ambitions that may not have come up in other discussions. It's always exciting to sit back and think about the future!

One of the things my wife has wanted to re-do our wedding photos for some time now. I have avoided this for several reasons (we already got married after all!), but it's important to her, and now that we have put it in the budget, it's going to happen (lucky me! Ha ha).

We never got to do outdoor wedding photos because our wedding was in the winter (here in Canada).  For my wife, she'd really like to wear her dress again and get some beautiful outdoor shots.  For her, these photos are important, and budgeting gives us the freedom to do something that she wants to do.

Without budgeting for it, there's a high chance it might not happen this year.  After all, there's only ever so much money to go around!  But having a sit-down conversation allows us to discuss our life goals (short and long-term), what's important to us, and be realistic about what can and can't happen. 

And chatting about what can and can't happen is essential!  We can't do everything all the time, and talking about what we're not doing is equally important!  Not everything that we discussed made our budget, but it was a good way to discover what really mattered to us, both individually and as a couple.

PS - in full disclosure, we also discussed budgeting for a trip, new winter tires and some gadgets for me.

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Budgeting helps you achieve your goals

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Budgeting is not restrictive as some may think and it allows you to live within your means.

The process of putting everything on paper gives you the foresight to see what you want or need and to plan for those things. It also allows you to think about what you really want... not just what you want RIGHT NOW.

Without financial planning, you may not be able to go on that trip you have been thinking about or get that nice watch you’ve been eyeing for some time now. 

And those are just some material things.  Budgeting also helps you accomplish some goals that you have always dreamed of. Do you want to take a course? Do you want to retire early? Do you want to give more to charity? 

Personally, budgeting has helped us plan in so many ways.  Some that come to mind are my wife being able to go back to school, we can give more to charity each year, as well as plan to retire early.

Whatever your dream is, don’t let a lack of finances stop you! Budget for it! Some of these goals may take longer to accomplish, but that's OK.  At least you are planning for it!

Creating a budget gets you closer to your goals. We may not realize it, but lack of budgeting can stop us from doing things that we have always dreamed of.

We live in a world of “If only I had done….” Or “If only I had the money to…” Don’t live in doubt and uncertainty. Create a pathway so that with each paycheck, you are one step closer to your goals.

Related post:  Why budgeting gives you more freedom, not less

Budgeting gives you more time back

Clock on table

Budgeting also gives you some time back. I know a lot of people who work a lot of overtime to pay their expenses... and I'm not talking about basic needs here. I’m talking about consumer debt that's piled up because of not planning.  A budget, an emergency fund, and living more simply can all help avoid this.

I know that they would much rather be at home with friends and family, but with a lack of planning, they're handcuffed to work.

Plan for the unexpected and live within your means. The only way to do this is by building an effective budget.

Related post:  Learn how to pay yourself first and save more money

Don't let fear hold you back

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My final thought to you about budgeting is not to be afraid to talk to someone you trust about it. Look for a trusted friend or find a financial advisor to get help. If you’re not confident about budgeting or money, there is nothing wrong with seeking out guidance from those with more experience than you.

If the "check engine" light in your car went on, you’d likely take it to the mechanic (unless you are knowledgeable or handy with vehicles).  You wouldn't avoid it for fear it causes permanent damage.  Why treat something as important as your finances differently? The sooner you are able to get on track the sooner you will FEEL better about your goals.

Don’t let fear, embarrassment or lack of knowledge control your finances. Open the lines of communication and prepare a list of what you find important and what you would like to accomplish. There are some things that you can do on your own and other stuff it's OK to ask for help on.

Think it through

  • How aligned is your budget to your long term personal goals?
  • What can you do differently to make sure you're planning for the future?
  • How confident are you with money? What's preventing you from asking for more help?

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