Tips For Those Who Dislike Budgeting

I have a confession to make. I dislike budgeting. I have been in the finance industry for more than 20 years now, and have taught or advised thousands of people. The first thing I tell them to do?

Start a budget!

To be honest, I cringe on the inside when I say that. In my opinion, the words “budget” or “spending plan” are more feared than bankruptcy, fore-closure and debt! Visit artofthinkingsmart.com/budget for helpful budgeting tips!

Given how much I don’t want to do a budget, I can understand everyone else’s resistance as well. Most people would rather watch paint dry.

How do I know? A recent survey shows that 61 percent of people do not keep track of their money. They have no idea how much money comes in or how much goes out!

Without a doubt, budgeting is important. There is no way you can be financially successful without knowing how much you make and how much you spend. People get into financial trouble when they spend more than they have, take on debt they can’t get out of and have nothing to show for it.

The famous singer Rihanna sued her accountant, claiming that she was “effectively bankrupt” after getting bad advice from him. The accountant fired back: “Was it really necessary to tell her that, if you spend money for things, you will end up with the things and not the money?”

In order to proactively manage your money, you have to budget. But how fun is it to tediously go through each of your transactions and track every penny? When I first started budgeting in college, I wrote every expense in a notebook. That didn’t last long. Strike one. I then created a massive Excel spreadsheet with complicated equations and ended up only confusing myself. Strike two.

Next, I purchased Quicken and Microsoft Money (no longer available, since people weren’t using it). I can’t tell you how many times I would start, stop and get started again. I also got annoyed that I had to buy the new versions every year for the updates. Eventually, I spent more time downloading and categorizing my transactions than actually understanding my overall financial picture. Strike three!

Thankfully, we now can leverage technology even more to make budgeting easier. Online budgeting programs and apps have made it more intuitive to track our finances. You can check from your computer or mobile device anywhere at anytime.

My favorite program is an online SMART portal that connects all of my financial accounts, automatically downloads my transactions, helps me categorize and analyze my spending in real-time and then creates a budget for me! I then can adjust my spending goals for each category and easily monitor my progress. With a few simple clicks, much of the work is done for me!

I also have it connected to my financial-planning software, where it helps me manage my overall financial health while getting a 360-degree view of all my financial activity. The whole purpose of a budget is to create smarter spending habits, but you can’t do that if you can’t see the big picture. There are many personal financial management app on the market to help you do this. To see a list of my favorite apps, visit artofthinkingsmart.com/budget.

david@artofthinkingsmart.com