You’ve probably heard of balancing your accounts, but what about balancing your budget?
I don’t mean reconciling your planned spending with your actual spending. I mean adding balance to your budget.
Your Budget Is Just a Tool
So often we view the budget as a big bad villain telling us what we can’t have. But budgeting is really just you telling your money what to do.
It’s simply a plan. A plan you’re in charge of and one you can change if you want.
If you notice that you’re not following your plans (spontaneous overspending) or you’re stifled by them (overaggressively saving), don’t blame the budget. Change it!
Add Some Balance to Your Budget
The best way to have a positive relationship with your budget is to add some balance to it. Not everything in your budget has to be about obligations.
While you should definitely plan for your obligations first, don’t neglect to add a little fun money as well.
Movies, restaurants, sports games, bar tabs. Whatever your pleasure, don’t let deprivation cause you to abandon your goals.
Even if there’s not much left after you pay your bills, consider giving yourself a minimal amount that gives you the emotional freedom to have a little fun.
Fun Money = Freedom
Budgeting fun money has been key to our family’s ability to cut our spending.
We used to spend a small fortune eating out multiple times every week, but our attempts to go cold turkey never worked.
Cooking is a major stress point for me. I don’t enjoy it, so eating out is kind of like a vacation away from an unhappy chore. When we slashed the dining out category I found myself resenting our budget for making me work harder at something I already struggled with. It just led to more stress and frustration.
So instead of completely eliminating the dining out category, we decided to budget just enough to eat out once per paycheck (every two weeks).
I still hate cooking, but we’re eating cheaper and healthier without feeling totally deprived. Plus, I’m less stressed knowing I’ll eventually get a day off from cooking.
Give Yourself Permission
If you’re in debt it can be hard to justify splurging on yourself even every once in a while. But staying motivated is key and the best way to ensure you stay motivated is to have a healthy relationship with your budget.
There are always going to be special occasions or just moody days that come up and require a bit of an adjustment to the plan, but that’s what budgeting is all about – you making those decisions.
So if you’ve been feeling frustrated with your budget or controlled by it, try to add a little balance. Give yourself permission to have some fun and see if it doesn’t ease the pressure a bit.