Research has shown that about 40% of all households maintain a monthly spending plan, or budget. While they make up less than half of us, do budget-users know something non-budgeters don’t? Have they discovered a secret to make budgeting less of a chore?
Unfortunately, no. Here are three truths that I've learned about using a spending plan, and that other users would likely agree with:
Planning ahead is hard. Unexpected expenses come up every month and prices on most things (not just gas) continue to rise. Sometimes spending predictions are off—even way off.
Tracking spending is a pain. A purse or wallet stuffed with receipts is annoying. And even with budgeting software, logging all the information can be time-consuming.
Budgets are "restrictive." Yes, a budget will restrict you from buying what you want--especially if you can’t afford it.
So now you know: Budgeting isn’t fun. But that's true about many things in life that are good for us. Watching what we eat and sweating it out at the gym aren’t easy, for example. But the satisfaction you can get from a trim, healthy body makes the effort worthwhile.
Financial talk-show host Dave Ramsey likes to say that folks who get on a monthly budget often feel like they’ve gotten a raise. Such can be the power of planning and knowing where your dollars are going each month. And that can lead to some fun--that you really can afford--in the long run.
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