The pretty side of why you should start a budget
If you're anything like me when I first started thinking about the word 'budget', your stomach is already in knots. I would go into a little panic and then recover with online shopping therapy. Nevertheless, I overcame my fear of budgets by flipping the script and thinking about it in a new way. I'm not limiting myself on spending, I'm enabling myself to pursue a joyful life.
Before I tell you how I prepare my budget (the knitty, gritty), I want to discuss the lovely part about doing this (the pretty).
Why do you want to have a budget? If the reason is because your dad told you to (s/o past me at 22), then chances are you don't really want to do this. And if you're not invested in it up front, then I would guess you will think about it for a month, let it slip one weekend and then just hop on board that fun, budget-less party train through life on month to month earnings. And, of course, repeat every time you're stomach knots up over that 'budget' word.
So why do you want to budget your income? Most people can resonate with one of two why's: you're seeking out less stress (b/c bills) or you're seeking to make a life move (b/c homes, vacations, kids & weddings are so wonderful).
Right now my why is two things: To travel this summer without stress and to save up for a down payment on my future home. And this works for me. I look at an adorable ceramic stool for 160 euros and think "add to cart". My next thoughts are "flight to Spain" and "3 car garage". Often times this works for me. I admire that stool and the artist who painted it, imagine myself with it in my future home, and close the page to return to life. You too should have your own why which actually causes you to slow down and think about what you should spend / not spend in order to reach it.
However, if I'm looking at this ceramic stool and thinking.... no I really need this. I love it and it will make me happy all the time. Then it's ca-ching, let's buy that baby. Sadly for this specific stool I accepted that it was not yet my time to buy, but you get the point.
All of this is to say that when I'm buying something, I think about how it will impact my goals. Will I not buy a new pair of jeans and buy this instead? Will this bring me happiness? Simply taking the time to slow down and think is such a powerful start. And you would probably be surprised how often you realize your financial goals are more important to you then your online shopping cart.
When you pair questioning your spending with a deep rooted 'why' its like fancy cheese and fine wine - the perfect Friday night baby.
And here's why.
1. You focus on your goals and using your money to reach them, rather than restricting yourself because "adults should have a budget"
2. When you do want to splurge and buy something, you've intentionally thought about how it is going to bring you joy and you become more grateful for the purchase (rather than questioning why the delivery man is leaving random amazon boxes that you don't remember purchasing)
I really want to stress one point: this shouldn't be about being ridiculously restrictive. If a coffee date with a friend makes you happy (and you can reasonably afford it), do it! If you want a yoga membership, you already know I'm on board for that (in fact, I used to clean at my yoga studio at 5:30 in the morning every Monday to have a reduced membership which I could afford).
It's about slowing down and using our money for our true priorities and happiness.