I’m embarrassed to admit it, but recently I tried a new workout video, and it was painful. Excruciating, actually. And yet, despite agonizing muscle aches, I felt an odd sense ofaccomplishment because I knew that I’d done something constructive for myself that would yield positive results over time. And while I was going through this agonizing experience (I still am), I realized that financial fitness is actually quite similar to physical fitness in the sense that you often need to sacrifice your own comfort in order to reach a concrete goal. While there are a million reasons to avoid both exercise and strict budgeting, most of them are simply excuses. Let’s jump into the budgeting process by examining some of the most common excuses and overcoming them – one painful step at a time. After all, with no pain, there’s no gain.
I absolutely cannot give up my (fill in the blank). It may seem impossible to forego your cleaning help, your birthday dinner or your annual vacation, but let’s face it – none of these are life-or-death necessities. If you’re looking to clean up your budget, the first thing to do is to take an honest look at your expenses and to make the necessary cuts. It hurts. It’s hard. But hopefully, once your finances are under control you’ll be able to add some of these extras back into your life. And when that time comes, you’ll appreciate them so much more.
I don’t like feeling constrained. Really? Do you answer to a boss? To a spouse? If so, you’re used to being constrained by others. But even if the constraint of a budget really does ruffle your feathers, why not look at it in a positive way? The structure of a budget will allow you the freedom to have extra money to use as you see fit, instead of constantly struggling with your bills at the end of the month. Doesn’t that sound better?
I don’t have time to make a budget. I’ll concede that budgeting does take time, but once the initial setup is complete, the maintenance is minimal. If you truly wanted to, you could find the time (perhaps by sacrificing one hour of exercise a week for a few weeks, or recording a few TV shows instead of watching them live). I could even argue that the time invested in setting up a budget will save you time in the long run as it’ll keep your finances organized so that you won’t have to spend time worrying or wondering about lost bills, late payments and other unfortunate blunders.
There’s no use – we’re already too far in debt. Unfortunately, the people who need exercise the most are those who are morbidly obese. Likewise, those who need a budget the most are those who are the furthest in debt. If this applies to you, you shouldn’t be embarrassed, ashamed or overwhelmed. Instead, you should be determined to dig yourself out of debt…and a proper budget can do just that.
Budgeting is depressing. Budgeting isn’t only for those facing financial difficulties, it also helps people seeking to maintain their financial health. If you aren’t currently following a budget, remind yourself that while it may be a cure for your financial distress, it is also a protection for your financial future. And instead of feeling depressed, you should feel empowered and secure knowing that you’re doing the right thing for yourself and your family.