It’s easy to hate the concept of budgeting because nobody really enjoys counting pennies or feeling restricted on a daily basis. I absolutely can’t stand the idea of writing down when I spend money or tracking what I buy 24/7. I also don’t want to feel limited because I hate being told what I can’t do. I don’t want to be told that I can’t do what I want to.
I want to tell you why I hate budgeting, how you can still save money when you hate the concept of money management, and what I do to save money without totally missing out on life.
“Are you tracking calories?”
No. I don’t track calories nor do I budget!
Whenever friends ask me about my nutrition or my finances, they’re surprised to hear that I’m not all that “hardcore.” I’ve never been that intense about things. I couldn’t imagine tracking where every penny goes (it would be pretty depressing to look at those late night bills!).
I know that in the perfect world you’re “supposed” to have a meticulous plan that you follow. You’re supposed to know where every dollar goes with detailed accounting records. You’re supposed to be able to pull up a receipt from five years ago to know why you’re down $85 from your bank account. You’re supposed to be tracking every expense.
In reality, tracking your spending is meh. Budgeting can become a hassle that you don’t want to deal with. I’m all about finding the best system that you can follow. I want you to save money without feeling restricted.
Why do I hate the concept of budgeting?
I can’t sit there and track every penny. I don’t want to feel guilty if I buy a friend a coffee when it wasn’t in the budget for the day. I don’t want to feel like I’m stuck at home because everything has a price.
I also don’t want to sit in front of a spreadsheet. I got into personal finance so that my life would be more fun. I started saving money at an early age because I wanted to have more options when I was older.
It’s so unrealistic.
I believe in the imperfect plan that you’re going to follow as opposed to the perfect plan that you won’t follow.
Saving money and trying to get ahead in life isn’t about being perfect. It’s often about trying to make small changes over time. You can’t change every single habit at once. You have to slowly work on your problem areas instead of trying to create a budget that you won’t realistically follow.
Sometimes a friend will tell me about how they plan on never spending money again or how they’re going to track where every penny goes. It never works out. Budgeting to the last dollar is unrealistic for most of us.
I have a friend who’s always chasing the perfect budget or flawless financial plan. He has no patience. He’ll go on a “crash budget” where he doesn’t buy anything for a few weeks. Then he gets fed up and gives up with personal finance because nobody can really live like that.
Extreme budgeting isn’t realistic for most of us.
What we say we want: to be better with money bla bla bla.
What we really want: to have money to go out more and to be able to do cool stuff.
Being better with money is what allows you to have a better life.
Keep on reading…
How do you save money if you hate budgeting?
I use the 8AM Class Principle.
What does this mean?
When I would get bored in my early morning (8am) classes I would start messing around with my calculator (this was before every single phone had a calculator) to see how much money I would need to go on a spring break trip. I would write out what a trip would cost, what I had, what I made, and how long it would take me to save up for the trip.
This is what makes personal finance super easy.
The steps to saving money for something are this simple:
- Think about what you want money for.
- Figure out how much you need.
- Find out what you’re bringing in.
- Look at what you’re spending.
- Calculate how long it’s going to take you to afford what you want.
This goes with the exclusive techniques on Studenomics:
- The Cancun Technique For Saving Money. Find a bold goal that’s going to force you to save up (buy a condo, quit a job, or retire early).
- The Houdini System for saving money in the long run. Hide your money so that you don’t have access to it.
- The YOLO System. This is how I blow money without feeling guilty about it.
- See how Jacquelyn paid off $48k worth of debt.
There are two things that you need to know if you want to save money to do whatever you want:
- You need to know where you are right now compared to where you want to go.
- You need to get a rough snap shot of what you spend so that you don’t spend all of your income before you can even do something fun.
You can’t just keep on keeping on. You need some sort of plan of attack so that you don’t just loiter around through life.
How can I start finally saving money?
I know that you want to travel more, move out, and live a more exciting life. Where do you start?
Set a huge financial goal.
What do you want to save up for? What’s your huge financial?
Some common examples include:
- Would you like to finally move out?
- Do you want to travel to Australia?
- Are you ready for a new car?
Run the numbers.
Quickly run the numbers to see where you stand.
- Do you have any debt?
- How much do you need to pay off your debt?
- How much do you spend?
- How much do you earn?
- What do you want to do with your money?
Figure out what your weaknesses are.
What’s your biggest weakness?
Work on the problem areas by tackling one issue at a time. When you focus on everything, you get nothing done.
Work on one problem area at a time. If you know that you blow way too much on eating out, then try to stay in an extra day per week at first. If you know that you enjoy going for drinks, try to drink at home before going out one evening. Slowly try to cut back a little on your problem areas.
Use your mobile banking app.
I remember reading a personal finance blog post where the guy was talking about how he brought a notebook around and tracked all of his spending. Who wants to do that? Luckily, you don’t have to because every bank account has a mobile banking app.
You don’t have to write anything down. I log in to my mobile banking app every few days to see what’s going on and to ensure that I like what I see.
My money is like my fitness. I don’t need a fancy fitness app to track my fitness progress. I look in the mirror. I see how I look and I give a realistic assessment. When it comes to money management, I look at my savings and checking accounts to see if things are running smoothly.
The goal is to keep more than you spend while not hating life.
This is the whole purpose of money management. You have to save more than you spend. You want to save more money than you put out. My goal is to make this happen without hating life.
People often ask me about how I get to travel so much. The answer is that I don’t spend money on anything else. I get berated constantly for not having a nice car or not wanting to go out all of the time. I would rather travel and see the world.
Here’s your homework:
- Think about what you want to save up for. This could be anything from a trip to Cancun to a new condo.
- Take a snapshot of your finances to see how much you have vs what you need.
- Write down how much you would have to put aside and how long it would take.
Make something happen. Plan that move so that you don’t live with your parents in your 30s, go on that trip so that you’re not stuck writing passive aggressive comments on social media, and pay for a friend’s coffee without feeling guilty. Don’t sit around complaining about the economy or about how you hate the current political situation.