I’ve shared this statistic many times before, but it must not be forgotten. According to a Gallup poll, only 32% of Americans maintain a household budget. Here’s why this is so important – if a budget is the number one tool for financial success (which it is), then 68% of Americans are not putting themselves in a position to succeed financially.
There could be plenty of reasons for why someone wouldn’t create and stick to a budget. What I hear from potential clients is that they are scared to see where they stand. They are scared that their money is as bad (or worse) than they really think it is. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. I want you to conquer your fear of budgeting, and I’m going to walk you through a few ways to do that.
How to conquer your fear of budgeting
#1 Start with the right frame of mind
Before you even think you’re ready to conquer your fear of budgeting, you need to be in the right frame of mind. The best way to do this is to pinpoint exactly what about budgeting scares you or gives you anxiety. Ask yourself the following questions:
- “When I hear the word budgeting, what do I think? Why do I think that?”
- “Does the reason why I think that have anything to do with budgeting itself?”
- “What can budgeting help me accomplish?”
The goal here is to realize that your fears and anxiety around budgeting come from something else. Maybe it’s how you were raised. Maybe it’s a worry that you are too behind. Budgeting itself doesn’t scare you, it’s what the budgeting forces you to think and do that scares you.
When you see that your fears around budgeting come from something else, you can start to change how you view budgeting. The last question really puts into perspective why budgeting can be positive for you. Once you see the positive, the fear starts to fade away. To truly conquer your fear of budgeting, you need to be positive and approach the situation logically.
#2 Create a stress-free environment to complete your financial review
Once you’ve gotten the right frame of mind in place, it’s time to do what you’ve been scared to do. Let’s make this as easy as possible by creating an environment to help you thrive. In the article How to Enjoy Budgeting Your Money, I touch on a few things you can do to set the stage for budgeting.
Since you’ve always approached budgeting in a scared or negative way, you’ll want to make sure you do this part. Make your space comfortable to look at your numbers. Sit in your favorite room of the house. Light a candle. Brew some coffee or pour some wine. Put on classical music. Burn an incense. Do whatever you need to do to make the environment stress-free and welcoming.
#3 Understand the facts
Now that you’ve created an environment that stimulates you, go into looking at your numbers with a few things in mind.
First, a budget is an absolute necessity for financial success. A budget tells you what money is coming in, what money is going out, and what’s leftover. That information is critical for how you spend and make decisions with your money. When you understand that a budget is only there to help you, you can create one with a positive state of mind.
Second, a budget is not the end all be all. Sometimes, things come up that will throw your budget off. Make sure you understand this ahead of time. That way you won’t feel so defeated when those inevitable things take place. You would’ve already understood that unexpected expenses are simply a part of life.
Finally, a budget only works if you do. Since a budget is simply a tool, it only makes sense that you are the user of that tool. You have to do what it takes to stick to the budget. This is likely where your fear of budgeting comes from. Know that you have the ability to accomplish anything you choose to. That most certainly includes budgeting.
#4 Be realistic with your numbers
As you are reviewing your numbers and laying out what needs to be paid for month over month, be realistic. Make sure you are including variable expenses in your budget. This includes things like groceries, meals out, toiletries, household goods, and any other expense that doesn’t have a specific amount or due date.
When you are realistic, you can make progress. When you are unrealistic, things never seem to work out how you want them. Being realistic means, you include all of your spending. It also means that you put achievable limits on what you can spend money on. If you are used to eating out every night, it’s not realistic to say that you can’t eat out at all. However, it is realistic to say that you can cut meals out in half.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when creating your budget. Give yourself some room to succeed and some room to surprise yourself. You may do better than you expect when you loosen up on the reins a little bit!
#5 Give yourself some grace
Giving yourself some grace with budgeting and your budget means that you understand you are human. You will make mistakes. However, you know that you can bounce back from those mistakes. Even a budget coach like me slips up on her budget from time to time. How I bounce back and get back on track is truly what matters.
Be gracious with yourself and know that you are likely going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is letting those mistakes stop you from picking yourself back up and getting back to work. Giving yourself permission to mess up and get back on track makes budgeting a much better process!
#6 If things don’t work, seek help
Sometimes, the missing link to a successful budget is extra accountability. If you are not able to control your spending and stick to a budget, consider seeking outside help. Work with a finance coach (like me), tell a friend or significant other about your goals, or join a virtual community. Extra accountability can keep you on track when you can’t keep yourself on track.
It’s also okay to work with a therapist or life coach. The lack of control with your spending could be tied to deeper issues that need to be addressed. That has nothing to do with budgeting – it’s simply the upstream impact to what’s keeping you successful with your budget. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to seek outside help or accountability. It’s likely exactly what you need to get to the right place.
Budgeting is a skill that can be learned by everyone. If you haven’t been able to get a handle on budgeting, schedule a free consultation with me today and let’s discuss!
Related: 5 Budgeting Myths to Forget Now
When you take the approach of looking at your budget and budgeting as a logical action, it makes it so much easier to see it with a clear mind. Take the emotion out of it! A budget simply “is”. You can handle anything you put your mind to, including budgeting! Do you have a fear of budgeting? What has helped you get over that fear and move forward anyways? Post a comment below to share!