Is Your Budget Half Empty or Half Full?

Remember this: You’re the boss.

The following post is adapted from YNAB Podcast, episode 176.

You know the setup. You show someone a glass of water and watch for their reaction. Some people will look at it and say, “It’s half empty.”

Others, seeing the same glass, are grateful for the drink. To them, the glass is half full.

When it comes to budgeting, which type are you? For one reason or another, you started a budget. Did you feel the need to handcuff yourself—to put yourself in a metaphorical prison so that you can’t spend any money? Or did you just need a plan to help you reach your goals, something to help you focus on the bigger picture?

If your budget feels restrictive—that it forces you to say “No” all the time—then consider adopting a new mentality: your budget is there to help you get what you want! It can help you spend, guilt-free, and get the things you truly care about. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If you love something and make it a priority, your budget is there to help you get it.

When you’re budgeting with a spouse, this is an especially helpful mindset to adopt. If either of you are reluctant about the budget, try to stay in the ‘budget half full’ perspective because it can rub off! Notice and remark on your spending in a positive way, like:

  • “Oh, wow! It’s so nice to have the cash here to buy this thing.” or
  • “Hey, don’t you think this food tastes just a little better because we paid cash?” or
  • “I can’t believe we were able to pay for the car repair without putting it on the credit card!”

It’s the little things that can really change the way you experience budgeting as a couple. Budgeting should feel like a choice, not an obligation, and your language reinforces how you feel.

It’s not like you can never throw down some cash, either. Money’s messy, and relationships are hard. They take work and lots (and lots) of communication. But find ways to stay in the ‘budget half full’ mode, and model that behavior for yourself and those around you.

And, remember, your budget isn’t the boss of you! It’s there to serve your priorities.

If you need help budgeting for the items on your wish list, drop into our free, online classPay for Big Expenses without Borrowing. It’s only 20 minutes long, and our teachers would be happy to answer your questions!