I remember when I got my job offer to write for YNAB. It was an epic day, and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. As you might expect, my friends and family were very happy for me. What you might not expect (I know I didn’t!) is that it would open up a can of worms about budgeting, itself.
It turns out that a lot of people are less than jazzed at the prospect of budgeting. One friend admitted that the very word—budget—raised her anxiety. Others shrugged and wondered why people even bother with budgeting. Why not just check your bank app?
As the many forms of resistance reared their heads, I couldn’t help but feel like they were all overlooking the life-changing magic of making a budget. (Have I been watching too much Netflix?) And, in answer to the most common budgeting myths that I encountered, I give you this:
Myth 1 – I Don’t Have Enough Money
Maybe you’re between jobs or your income just isn’t cutting it. Or, perhaps you’re going through a tough time, with lots of expenses hitting you all at once. But there you are, waiting for paychecks so that you can cover bills that are due immediately (or, worse, they’re already past due).
So, how do you budget when it’s a struggle just to cover your most urgent expenses? And, how can you give your dollars a job, when you don’t have any? It’s not a fun position to be in, but that’s exactly how tons of YNABers before you have felt—worried and powerless. That is until they started budgeting.
No matter how little money you may have, budgeting gives you back a sense of control. At first, your wins will be tiny, but they’ll give you confidence. You’ll see for yourself that, when you decide what your dollars will do before you spend them, it gives you an edge. You’ll spot opportunities to get a just little further ahead than you were last month. And, over time, your efforts will snowball into a life that feels so much better than it does now!
As YNABer, Jaklin, said, “I used to think that money was evil because there was never enough around. Now that I’ve been budgeting and using YNAB I know that it is just a tool. The finite amount that we have at any given time can be molded and shaped to what we need it to be.“
Myth 2 – I Don’t Have Enough Time
The idea of sitting at your desk during your leisure time, sorting through a mountain of receipts, bank invoices and bills, doesn’t sound appealing. I know. I mean, it could take hours (days?) to untangle the web that is your finances, and who has time for that? The answer is nobody. Nobody has time for that!
… so it’s a very good thing that YNAB is different. For starters, we won’t ask you to figure out the past (what’s done is done) or look into the future (we don’t forecast!). The only thing you need to know, in order to start budgeting, is how much money you have right now. Seriously, you could be a budgeter within an hour. And, once you’ve got your budget in place, it’ll only take you a few minutes per week to manage.
Try it! It’s time well spent. And, if you’d like a quick, 20-minute “budgeting how-to” and the opportunity to ask a real, live human questions, drop into one of our free, online classes.
Myth 3 – Budgeting Is Too Restrictive
Many people are afraid that a budget will require them to give up their guilty pleasures—no more eating out, new shoes or [fill in the blank]. Well, I’m pleased to inform you that nothing could be further from the truth. Budgeting isn’t about restriction, at all. It’s about priorities, and your priorities are completely up to you.
What do you need and want most? It’s your budget’s job to make sure you get those things! Without a budget, you might spend money on sushi that you’d have preferred to spend on a new pair of Vans. With a budget, you’ll see that your old pair are wearing thin, and happily pass on the dragon roll so that you can hit up the mall this weekend.
Your budget is just a friendly “Heads up!” that gives you a chance—the freedom—to funnel your dollars towards what matters most.
And, with Rule Three, you can always change your mind! Maybe you planned on buying the Vans, but then an out-of-town friend breezes through your city. In this case, maybe a social dinner at the sushi joint would be a more satisfying expense (you can always prioritize the shoes for next month).
Myth 4 – I’m Doing Fine Without a Budget
Do you avoid budgeting because you get along just fine without one? I mean, you can always check your balance if you need to, right? Well, consider this: Your bank balance has flaws. Yep, your balance can lead you astray because it doesn’t know your priorities.
With a budget, you’ll know exactly how much cash you’ve got available and, even more importantly, where the cash is available. So, let’s say you’ve got $400 sitting in your account, and the camera you’ve been coveting goes on sale for $399. If you look at your bank balance, you’d think you’ve got enough … and you might forget that your $350 car payment is due tomorrow. But, if you check your budget, first, you’d see that you’ve got the car payment coming up, and you need the remaining $50 for groceries to last until payday.
Plus, over the long-term, you’re just missing out on making your bigger dreams a reality. When you get intentional with your cash (i.e., you start budgeting), you have the opportunity to look ahead and choose what’s next. Whether it’s paying off student loans, buying a house, going on a big trip or taking a year off of work, a budget is a roadmap to help you conquer your loftiest of goals.
See for Yourself!
If you’ve never tried budgeting, or even if you have, I can’t more strongly urge you to give YNAB a shot. We don’t do it like the other guys, and you can access our very best thinking, award-winning software and proven method for free, for 34 days. After all, you won’t know that budgeting is life-changing unless you give it a chance to change your life.