Why I Love My Budget (For Serious)

Hey everyone! I am currently on my way to St. Thomas (WOOHOO!) and have some wonderful posts lined up for while I’m gone. I always love finding new blogs, so I hope you enjoy these great writers who were actually willing to post for me 😛 Today’s guest post is by Emily from Evolving Personal…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

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Hey everyone! I am currently on my way to St. Thomas (WOOHOO!) and have some wonderful posts lined up for while I’m gone. I always love finding new blogs, so I hope you enjoy these great writers who were actually willing to post for me 😛

Today’s guest post is by Emily from Evolving Personal Finance. Emily is a graduate student in North Carolina and writes about life transitions, finances and relationships, and living well on less.

I fall more in love with my budget with every year that passes, and I think that you should love your budget, too!

It’s taken me some time to understand the true meaning and utility of budgeting, but after five years of practice and honing I’m ready to share with you the reasons it’s grown on me so much.

My Budget Reflects My Values

This is a truism that works both ways – you can identify your values by how you spend your money and you can direct your spending to be more in line with your values. For example, my husband and I value our relationships with family and friends, so we save a ridiculous amount of money monthly toward travel so we can be with them for weddings and holidays.

I think people feeling uncomfortable about or being embarrassed by how they spend money is just an indicator that their spending isn’t aligned with their values. Who doesn’t like their own values, right? Even if you are forgoing lots of things you love to have/do to pay down debt, that reveals your value of freedom.

Your first budget probably won’t perfectly reflect your values. Through a process of introspection and budget adjustments, over time your true self will be revealed more and more by your budget. As you clarify your values, you can use them as a scalpel to reduced expenses in non-valued areas to free up more money for what you really love.

 

My Budget Helps Me Execute Smart Decisions

I try to make spending decisions easy on myself by putting a plan together ahead of time when I’m at my most rational and wise. If I’ve already allocated my money according to my values, I don’t have to use up my self-control by making yes-or-no spending decisions over and over again on the spot.

First things come first out of our monthly paychecks: giving, saving, rent, and utilities – all the discretionary and variable spending comes second. I can feel confident all month long that I’ve done the right thing with the bulk of my money because my budget assures it.

 

My Budget Frees Me Up to Spend without Guilt

I admit I’m sort of a tightwad! My husband has told me that my version of being frugal is to not buy things. But my budget helps me counteract my extreme nature, just as it can for spendthrifts.

When I was being super wise and putting together my budget I told myself that it’s healthy to spend a certain amount of money each month on discretionary treats like eating out, entertainment, and clothing purchases. Seeing that money has already been allocated for those purposes helps me spend without guilt or remorse.

I hope that you can now see your budget as a great tool that enables you to be the self you want to be!

Is your budget your friend or foe?

What values does your budget reflect, and what do you wish it did?

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. LivingDFRocks!

    Good post! I have been using a budget for years and it has really helped me to manage and direct my money with much more ease.
    My recent post My Weekly T.G.I.F.

    1. A budget might be difficult to set up at first, but it gets easier and easier to stick to and tweak as time goes by. After just a couple years I would say it can be effortless!
      My recent post Weekly Update 43

  2. My budget is a loose budget but allows me to spend where I want while saving a large chunk of money! I think it is more of a friend than foe.

    1. As long as you are meeting your savings and other important goals, the rest can fall where it may. As long as you are tracking it's easy to tell if you are on track.
      My recent post Weekly Update 43

  3. ashleenikol

    My budget is both a friend and foe. Sometimes it works out great and then other times, I don't know what happens. Great post, Emily 🙂
    My recent post Searching for the Perfect iPhone Case

    1. Is that an issue with your budget or just sticking to it? 😉 How do you recover from those times?
      My recent post Weekly Update 43

  4. Traveling is a great carrot to earn more/spend less money!
    My recent post Weekly Update 43

  5. I totally agree. A budget is really a written representation of your values, and putting it down in black and white helps communication between spouses so much. You really have to articulate why something is or isn't important to you when you're working with another person.
    My recent post Weekly Update 43

  6. wmwo

    My budget and I are friends for sure! I remember what it was like trying to decide whether I should fill up my car or buy groceries first, because I wasn't sure how much money I really had available at that point in the month. My budget helps me to breathe easier knowing not only do I have money, but I'm working towards my goals.
    My recent post 52 Cards

    1. Wow, what a rough situation. The tighter things are the more value budgeting brings.
      My recent post Weekly Update 43

  7. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    I used to be really scared of budgets, mainly because I had so much debt. I now have seen that my budget is a great friend and ally, so I am hoping to join the ranks of budget nerds everywhere. Nice post.

    1. You're already spreading the word of the friend-budget! When people IRL find out what you've already accomplished I hope they will ask you how you did it!
      My recent post Weekly Update 43

  8. The budget and I used to not get along, but now I like it. It just helps to simply have a plan (for the whole year) and know where your money is or should be going.
    My recent post Goal Setting Activities for Your Personal Finances

    1. I love being able to project over a whole year. That ability definitely just comes with a year or more of tracking and noticing irregular expenses.
      My recent post Financial Wrongs from the Past

  9. When you say "finding" a budget are you referring to a specific budgeting technique or an iteration of a budget?
    My recent post Financial Wrongs from the Past

  10. Canadianbudgetbinder

    Great post, thanks for sharing. Our budget helps motivate and keep us on track towards our long-term and short-term goals. We can't imagine our life without the budget as we would simply not know if we were on track or spending more than we earn.

    1. Now that we've lived on a budget for so long, going without one "by the seat of our pants" is a scary prospect! But I suspect people who have never budgeted don't all feel that way.
      My recent post Financial Wrongs from the Past

  11. Amber

    I have tried making a budget, but I just cannot get the hang of it. I tend to forget something or something comes up. Plus, we’re a couple that has tons of debt. Right now, we’re just trying to put everything extra toward that. I know that’s awful! I will say that I do use Mint.com so every few weeks I’ll go on and see how much I’m spending in different categories. I know a budget is super important, but I just can’t find a way that works for us. Plus my checks fluctuate so I’m just glad that none of our bills are behind and we’re able to put toward debt.