As soon as you start a budget, everything changes. And many of those changes feel uncomfortable. It can feel stifling — tracking every expense and having spending rules you have to follow. Sound fun yet? I’ll answer for you — nope.
So why do people willingly sign up for this crap? I’m beginning to question it as I type this now. And then I remember — it’s the why factor. We figure out why we need/want/must have a budget in our lives, which far outweighs any growing pains that come with having a budget.
Instead of showing you all the reasons you need a budget, we’re going to focus on the opposite — life without a budget and what it looks like. To most of us, this life probably sounds very familiar, almost deja-vu-like. For others, this life will sound exactly like the one you’re living right this very minute. And that’s okay. Because taking a step back and actually understanding what life without a budget looks like is perhaps the best reason of all to have a budget. Commence real talk.
1. $0 in your bank account is your budget.
When you don’t have a budget, your “budget” is the absence of money in your bank account. That means “going over budget” is actually spending more money than you possess in your bank account. So as long as you’re not spending more than you make, you’re good to go.
2. Your spending is not related to or influenced by your financial well being.
The question is never, “Can I afford this?” Because the truth is that you don’t really know. All you know is whether you have enough money in your bank account to cover that expense. So instead, your spending choices are based on other factors. Emotions. Peer pressure. Appetite. Trends. You’re having a bad day, so you deserve that Target splurge. Or you’re feeling really frumpy, so you deserve a new wardrobe. Your friends are going out, so you deserve to go out, too. You’re craving those cookies from that cookie place. You need those shoes everyone is wearing this summer. The reasons are endless. And you probably do deserve all that stuff, honestly. But can you afford it? You still don’t know.
3. You don’t control your money — your money controls you.
Because you’re living without a budget, there’s no rhyme or reason to your spending. Maybe you found a great deal on a cute shirt. Good job! But you don’t have a budget in place to tell you whether you should buy it in every color. Even if you have a desire to live more frugally, without a budget there’s no definitive reason to say “Yes” or “No” to an expense. It’s always subjective. And so overspending inevitably happens, especially when something is on sale or a “good deal” (also subjective). And at the end of the month, you’re left wondering, “How did this happen again?”
4. It’s a life without goals, which means it’s a life without rewards.
Without a budget, you’re working toward nothing. And when you’re working toward nothing, you’re working without goals. And without goals, there’s no real reason to restrain your spending, so you buy things as you please. You’re working just as hard to earn your money as a person with a budget, but you’re seeing none of the benefits. Buying yourself what you want and need becomes meaningless when your money has no other purpose.
5. You’re not going anywhere.
Like a rudderless ship, you’re headed somewhere, but it isn’t a specified destination. Nothing you’re doing is ensuring you’re better off a year from now than you are today. You’re neither preparing for the future nor learning from the past. You’re just existing.
There will be times (like maybe right now) when having no budget seems like the easiest option. And it probably is. Whether you’re living this life or not, hopefully we all realize why budgeting is worth it. Why do YOU need a budget? And for you naysayers, why don’t you?