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Stop Fearing the Personal Budget

Updated on January 30, 2011

For many people, creating a personal budget is something they approach with varying degrees of fear and dread. It doesn't have to be this way. In this article we will explore common misconceptions regarding personal budgets and provide tips for making this powerful tool work for you.

The Emotional Factors

We all get it. Personal budgets are something that money savvy people follow. We all know we should write one up and follow one faithfully. But there are some of us who can't seem to force themselves to actually get it done. It is constantly put on the to-do list with every other unpleasant task we dread doing. Why is it so hard?

There is a perfectly logical reason for this internal resistance. For many people, the family budget is associated with fear, lack and deprivation. The budget was something that had the power to say "No!", to tell them what they could and could not do. In some family situations it was even a tool of control used by one spouse against another... in the old days it wasn't uncommon for the wife to be given a meager "allowance" which was factored in by the monthly budget.

It's no wonder many individuals would rather not create a budget with these psychological factors involved.


The Budget as a Useful Tool

A personal budget is a tool, nothing more. It is not something to fear, it is something to embrace. A good personal budget starts with simply paying attention to where money is spent. Don't tell yourself "No.", just be mindful of where the money is spent. It helps to keep a journal of purchases. Do this for a month and you will have a good guideline for where your money will continue to go.

With these facts in hand, sit down and compare your outgo to your income. If you find you need to cut back it will be easier to do so if you have a clear view of your finances.

Taking the Pain out of the Cut

As you adjust and juggle your spending, focus on keeping the spending that's important to you. For example, let's say eating out is something you simply feel like you couldn't live without. Keep that in your budget and plan for it then! The budget isn't there to tell you that you should be cooking meals at home, it's there to help you spend your income on EXACTLY what you want to spend it on. Perhaps cutting back on your cable would enable you to eat out more often. Some people may even want to consider ditching cable altogether in order to spend more on other things. This is more than possible now with streaming services such as Netflix. Or perhaps the cable is the thing you'd rather not do without. The point of a personal budget is to enable an individual to make a mindful decision with their monthly income.

Keep Your Budget to Yourself

There is no need to share your personal budget with anyone else. Feel free to keep it to yourself. Remember that a good budget is a tool for you. The budget that's perfect for Tom is probably a bad fit for Stanley.

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