You don’t want to look at them.
Opening my bank and credit card accounts online (at least) every couple of days requires me to review, categorize, and mentally own every one of my transactions.
And mental ownership isn’t fun (until you realize how powerful it is).
Taking mental ownership of your transactions means acknowledging that buying this meant giving up that, and not many of us enjoy reminders of the strict limits on our consumption.
Which is why I don’t really buy it when people tell me they’re too busy to maintain their budget. It takes me between one and three minutes to check my online accounts for any missed transactions, enter and categorize them, and ensure YNAB’s balances match the banks’ numbers.
I get it – taking ownership of your transactions feels restrictive. It’s easier, in the short run, to pay the credit card off at the end of the month (or not, in unfortunate cases) without having to acknowledge individual outflows.
Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss. Every un-owned transaction is a mental open loop – an unanswered question: “Where did all my money go?”
The honest non-budgeter eventually admits the weight of all those open loops is a much bigger drag on today’s happiness than the “restriction” enforced by a budget.
All Together Now: “No Shame, no blame.”
Struggling to keep your budget current doesn’t mean you’re dumb, lazy, or “not a numbers person.” It just means you haven’t allowed yourself to experience the benefits of an up-to-date budget.
Try this simple mental re-frame to help you get past your budgeting block:
No shame; no blame. Vicki and Joe (who’s pictured above) have begged us (since the ’70s!) to separate our sense of self-worth from our spending. The amount we do or don’t spend has nothing to do with our value!
Embrace the truth: your spending impacts your mood and your options in life – not your worth.
Then, start a trial copy of YNAB and use it to take your money stress closer to zero than it’s ever been.
Use a budget to understand and improve your spending. Give yourself a chance to discover what you really need and want, then spend like crazy on those things.