Hey Budget Hater – Admit It. You Already Have a "Budget"

Hello there Budget Hater. I know who you are. You’re the type that snickers when I ask for a receipt after purchasing one bag of Great Value Seasoned Fries (excellent with some grilled hamburgers) for less than two dollars.

I need that receipt so I can record it, you fool!

Yes, I know who you are. You’re the type that claims it’s “all up here”, pointing to your head as you nod, apparently confident in your ability to budget in your head. Though that’s a stretch. Because if I said, “Oh you budget in your head?” You’d certainly be quick to respond that you don’t “need a budget” but you’re well aware of all of your spending (and you nod and point to your head again..It’s all up–enough of that!)

I most certainly know who you are, so let me take it from here.

You don’t admit to budgeting, but you have one. You have a list of priorities for your money, you just don’t admit it — not even to yourself. You always pay the rent, right? You always pay your electricity, right? You always buy groceries, right? You have priorities and your money does things to fit those priorities. You’re budgeting — you’re just doing it in a by-the-seat-of-your-pants way that’s terribly ineffective and will leave you with, well, less than you could have had (and by less I’m not talking about raw dollar numbers, I’m talking about the intangible stuff like peace, confidence, and flexibility).

Yes, you budget. All you people out there that say you don’t need a budget? You do need one and you’re already doing one. Yours just isn’t very good, so you don’t recognize any benefit from it.

You’re reactively budgeting. An emergency strikes and the van needs its power steering pumped fixed. So you budget — right then and there — and do with your money what you can. It’s almost never enough and you surrender to the Plastic, chipping away at your confidence and increasing your minimum payment just a wee bit.

You’re invited to hang out with some friends and realize that you’re a bit short on cash at the moment… so you charge the night out. You knew you were going to be doing something social…but you chose not to think about it until it actually happened. And social stuff like entertainment isn’t so much in the budget in your head, so you kind of didn’t have a plan for it.

Christmas rolls around and you dig your hole a bit deeper.

Gas prices keep rising and you don’t know where you can cut back to compensate.

Food prices seem to be climbing, but you have no plan of action.

Your reactionary methods have gotten you this far. Why not try something different?

Maybe you could sit down with each paycheck, just twice a month, and look at what you have available and allocate ALL of those funds to a purpose — give every dollar a job I like to say. You’d have some preset categories and they would spur the thinking for you: “Oh, entertainment’s a category…I’m sure we’ll be doing something this weekend so I’ll budget $30 for it.” Would the $30 had been there if you weren’t budgeting? Maybe. But a few months from now when something else on the van breaks, that $300 wouldn’t have been there. It came from the fact that you socked away $100 per month toward car repairs.

Not because you had any big repairs planned — only because you knew there would be repairs eventually.

Yes, you are a budget hater. You hate that you feel “controlled” but that feeling won’t actually be there when you start. You’ll feel in control. You’ll feel confident in your decisions. You’ll see your dollars stretch further. You’ll see communication in your marriage improve. You’ll be budgeting.

And you’ll happily take a receipt from the cashier when you purchase seasoned fries.

I'm Done Budgeting. I Quit.

I Quit BudgetingI’m tired of it. Sick about it. Through with it. Finished. Fertig. Done.

I can’t stand knowing exactly what my money is doing at all times. It’s so obedient! My money just sits there, looking up at me like some dependent, too-young-too-realize-how-things-work puppy just out of obedience school waiting for me to give it some type of command — just so it can march off and execute my plan to a level of perfection found only in military brigades and the Von Trapp family.

Oh sure, I can tell you how much I spent on groceries during 2004, 2005, 2– anyway, I can tell you those things. Easily. But what do I have to show for it? A keen sense of how my life plays out financially? An uncanny ability to forecast (to within ten dollars) what we’ll spend in any given category during virtually any given month? (On average, we all know there are no perfectly normal months).

Really. What do I have to show for it? Instead of filling my head with this useless information (wow, housing costs are how much in relation to the rest of our spending, is this a problem we should talk about?) I could have been really getting to know the new people on Survivor. Now I can’t even name them!

Oh, it gets worse. My wife and I we…we talk about things like what kind of financial goals we have. She actually openly shares her feelings about things like retirement goals, aspirations, kids’ college etc. And you know what? It gets much worse. She spends money and doesn’t feel guilty about it.

How am I supposed to handle that? Huh? So yeah, when we were budgeting we would sit down at the beginning of the month and plan where to spend our money, and then yeah–uh–I guess she felt fine about buying the stuff we had planned to buy. Okay, when I write it out like this it doesn’t seem that hard to handle, but — eh — you get my point right? I mean, spending = guilt. We learn that as soon as we get our free t-shirt from those Visa people on campus.

Budgeting’s making me lose my edge. That’s one of the big problems. I used to be able to tell you exactly how much money I had in my checking account.

$10.12. Boom.

$18.45. Bam!

($25.40). Zing! (Yeah, it was overdrafted a few times. I didn’t think they’d cash the check. It had been three weeks!)

Now though. Seriously, if I want to know my bank balance I have to login to my bank and check. It’s in the thousands, I know that. But beyond that I’m not sure. Wait — yeah, it’s something like $6,000 (well, $1.5k is for property takes, which are due in six weeks, $200 of that is for groceries for the rest of this month, and we’re saving for Christmas so we can pay cash — that’s $800 of it, with a goal of hitting $1,000 before The Season rolls around–UGAHHHHHH! YOU SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING? WHAT KIND OF PSYCHO AM I? WHO DOES THAT?)

Whew! Anyway, that six grand, that’s a ballpark figure. And that’s what’s killing me! Every morning, first thing, I used to check my bank balance. And then again when I got to work because I had just bought some stuff on the way and wanted to be sure there was still enough to be able to buy lunch that day and — OH NO I TOTALLY FORGOT I NEEDED TO BE ABLE TO PUT IN AT LEAST 2 GALLONS OF GAS TO GET HOME.

Where was I?

Right. So I miss that daily “interaction” with my bank balance. It’s like it doesn’t even know I’m there anymore. It just “does its own thing” making me feel all secure and confident — as if money could make me feel confident. Everyone knows confidence comes from looks–the main contributors being well built-out delts and rippling pecs.

So I quit. I’m through. It’s done. We are OVER.

When I first started, it felt okay, you know? I would still enter transactions daily and look at my bank balance a lot and all that stuff. But then this totally weird thing started happening:

I think we started spending less money. I couldn’t tell you for sure because before we started budgeting I have no idea how much we were spending… but I noticed that I didn’t need to enter as many transactions after several months. Maybe each transaction was just a larger amount? No… OH! That’s probably where the 6 Gs came from that are in my checking account! That’s like “old spending” that I haven’t gotten around to spending yet!

Yeah, this budgeting thing, it’s just completely changed my life. I’ve got to stop. I think there’s a 12-step program out there somewhere for people like me, you know, people that are reaching their financial goals, don’t feel guilty about spending money, have great communication with their spouse, etc.

Hi. My name is Jesse and I’m a budgeter.

“Hi Jesse…”