Budgeting to get what you really, really want
Hate to budget? Most people do. They don’t like to figure out how much they owe, how much they spend, or track their future spending. It evokes feelings of dread, self-remorse, being restricted, shame, and even panic.
And what does budgeting get you? Usually there is no tangible reward to budgeting—just limitations of what we enjoy, what we like in life, what we really, really want to do. However if you set up a budget that focuses on your dreams you will enjoy a whole new perspective on life. It will allow you to envision a more fulfilling, more peaceful future. Having faith that it can work is the cornerstone of your success in budgeting to get what you really, really want.
4 steps to get started
1. Decide on what you want your money to do for you. (If you have trouble with this imagine that you have just won a lottery. What would be the first one or two priorities you would do? Pay off your bills, quit your job, buy a new house or car? Whatever you choose is probably what you truly want out of your money.)
2. To begin the budget, or spending plan, write down your “gotta” bills: your mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, day care, MINIMUM payments on your credit cards and student loans, an emergency fund, car payments, etc. These are the items you really have no control over. (Subtract your total gottas from your income.)
3. Second, write down two to four “wanta’s”—the dreams, the hopes, the goals. These may include paying off credit cards, buying a home, taking a vacation, helping a family member, changing jobs or starting a business. Look at your balance in number two and decide how much you want to spend on your dreams. You may want to calculate how many months it will take to accumulate the money you need. For example, calculate how much you need to put aside each month if you want to buy a home in two years with ten percent down. Now, like the commercial says, just do it. (Subtract your total wanta’s from your previous balance in number 2 above.)
4. And last, live with what’s left. Buy your groceries, clothes, entertainment—all of those things you really can control—with whatever is left. Your priority has shifted from mall-surfing to putting your money to work on what you really, really want.
Pay your gotta’s and wanta’s first and you don’t have to track every penny you spend after that. There’s no need to. You simply live on what’s left. Always be flexible, don’t give up because things don’t always go as planned.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon.
You will hit bumps in the road and you will need to adjust what you funnel into your dream money. Building an emergency fund is critical in beginning to fly right over those bumps without getting into further debt. Stopping debting is essential to achieving your dreams. You wouldn’t try to paint a masterpiece while sinking in quicksand. Don’t build a new life while digging yourself deeper into a hole. If you take charge of your budget and make it work for you, you will have a magnificent opportunity to totally redesign your life. Don’t wait for the lottery. Make it happen now.