[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]M[/mk_dropcaps]ention a budget and you create a similar reaction to when someone swears at you. Personally, the idea of a budget sounded more like prison than freedom when I was at my most financially unstable. It felt like I was oil and the budget was water. Nothing could get us to fully mix. Any money I had come in was quickly consumed. To think of even making a budget seemed impractical. It is peculiar how emotions cloud our thinking so much that things that are beneficial for us we can turn from something good to seemingly bad. I would like to say I really got the value of a budget in that season, but I am stubborn. Well, I now like to call it perseverant, but when it is against things that benefit you it is stubbornness. It took me a good few years to really commit to the process of budgeting. There were two things I had to cross the line and do no matter what.
What are the two key perspective shifts needed to sustain a budget?
- Budgets are not for you to be directed by your money but for you to direct your money where you go.
A budget is not a prison, but rather the framing and foundation of your financial house. We must stay within it in order to remain under it’s covering. To withstand the storms of life a budget keeps us on course. Step outside of it and you put yourself at risk of the elements around you. Build in areas where you have more flexibility to spend. This way you will not feel like a robot and have no room for spontaneity or fun. A budget is not to make you feel like a prisoner to your pay check, but rather as a method in which we exercise our authority over money. God made us stewards after all. We are to tend and keep all that has been given to us (see Gen 1).
- It only works when you work it.
A budget is best applied when it is for at least 1 month if not more, the key is though that you must stick to it. It is not about making radical shifts in one day and then going back to old habits and patterns. Make baby steps toward the financial goals you have. As long as you do this momentum will begin to build day by day. You know if your steps are baby steps as they will be easy to do. The thing is they are so easy to do, that not doing them seems just as easy. The reason the middle class stay that way is they only have an assignment for the money that is right in front of them. If you only focus on today you miss the full potential of what the future holds. Begin to dream bigger and put things in motion to build wealth, not just be debt free, or pay for that next gadget. Building wealth means you have more than enough for you and you can pour into the needs of those around you. Wealth includes our finances however it is not limited to them.
To sum it all up a budget is something that gives EVERY dollar you make an assignment. Money left unaccounted for will be spent regardless. Only when you give it an assignment will it go in the direction you want it to.. If you need help with budgeting and a system to keep it in front of you my recommendation is You Need a Budget. Try it out and see if it fits you (give it at least 3 months as budgets, like new workout programs, take a while to adapt to). I recommend this as it makes it simple to keep where you are at with your budget when you are out and about as they have a great phone app that syncs with your software used on your computer. Plus it will help you shift from reacting to bills, to being proactive about where the money is coming for them.
Stick and stay with your budget and watch your financial world find new resiliency.