I hate the word “budget.” I don’t think they work for a lot of people. You read that correctly. Managing your money may seem like it has to start and end with following a strict budget, much like being on a diet that keeps you from all of the foods you love. We all know what happens next… eventually, the diet fails. That’s because diets (and budgets!) are limiting, restrictive, and don’t honor your unique talents and needs. Managing money and creating the financial future of your dreams is not a lesson in suffering or surviving on rice and top ramen. Money tracking tips designed to match your lifestyle will work a whole lot better. Let’s take a closer look at how you can stop using budgets and start making smarter money moves that work for you.
Reframing The “B” Word
In my experience, the word budget comes with a negative stigma, and that negativity can stick with us our whole lives if we’re not careful. Throughout my 20s I failed over and over again trying to use budgeting sheets. They felt confusing, hard to track, and I didn’t really understand how to use them. Today, because of my experiences with budgets, when I hear the word budget, I want to take a nap. Literally, lights out! If that’s you—welcome to the budget napping club! I don’t feel motivated, inspired, or creative looking at traditional budgets, and the rebel in me has created my business in a new direction. Aside from flat-out failing at budgets in my own life, here’s where I think some of my resistance to the “B” word comes from:
From my own experience growing up, I heard from my parents that I couldn’t do things because we “didn’t have the money.” Whether or not my parents actually had the money, I’ll never know—it was how I experienced the conversation about money that seeped into my subconscious. My mom was a hard-core budgeter (love you Mom!), and when I reflect on growing up, she was always pinching her pennies. If whatever we wanted to do wasn’t in the budget, it was a hard pass. From those conversations, I inherited a scarcity mindset and a fixed mindset about money. For so many clients I work with, restricting money doesn’t feel good, and in the absence of an alternative to budgeting, we’re left to our own devices to figure out our money. Sound familiar? If you’re in the “F-that, I’m not using a budget club,” welcome to my world!”
In my world, the alternative to the word budget is money tracking. This comes from a place of being in a relationship with your money, working with your money, and feeling like you have the freedom to make choices. Traditional budgets can feel much like the opposite. YOU get to be the boss of your money. You don’t have to adhere to strict budgeting guidelines, but you do need to know where your money is going—that’s what you want anyway.
A growth money mindset helps with reframing the “b” word. You can focus on growth, meeting goals, and getting excited about how you’re going to meet those goals, and by tracking your money, you can feel more connected to your everyday decisions. Those with a growth mindset see opportunities, options, and solutions. They see them even when others don’t. Someone with a closed, or fixed mindset is stuck in scarcity mode. This is why a “budget” tends to be restrictive, whereas a “spending plan” allows for abundance in money flow. It might seem like semantics, but how you think about and describe your money management is a huge factor in your eventual success. If you’re new to money mindset psychology, check out more here.
Stop Using Budgets, Try Tracking Instead
It’s important to put systems in place that work with your money, otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re swimming in the dark and may not get the results that you want. Instead of “budget,” think: tracking. Have a system for following your money as it comes in and goes out so you can see the flow of money and possibilities. You can see exactly where your money is flowing without rigid categories, and you can make more strategic decisions as a result. You can adjust in real-time, instead of after the fact. Tracking consistently is a money finder. It’s about opportunity and strategy, unlike budgeting which is focused on restriction.
Key components to money tracking:
–Money management systems that help you create on-the-go money management practices that you can practice in real time.
–Consistent accountability is key to long-term success with money management. Create regular calendar reminders, plan for time to look at your money on a regular basis, and utilize a money coach to help you stay on track.
-Pay attention to your gains! Tracking isn’t meant to keep you hypervigilant and on edge. Pay attention to your wins, no matter how big or small, and watch your net worth grow over time. Tracking isn’t a race, it’s a journey. Stick with it and watch your systems actually work!
–Celebration is everything. Finding small but meaningful ways to validate your hard work is so important. That’s another reason why I hate budgets – they don’t allow for wins! And we all deserve to celebrate the wins.
Staying in Control of Your Money is Easier Than You Think
If you’re like most women in my world, you’re probably new to tracking and investing. That doesn’t mean you can’t start today. Tracking your money can even be fun – in fact, it should be fun. Money-tracking tips work so much better than dealing with budgets that don’t work for so many of us. You work hard for your money, and you deserve to use it to your highest benefit.
You don’t have to figure it all out alone. If you’re looking for a supportive group of women to help you take confident steps in your financial journey, join mine. If you need help getting your $hit together in a way that works for YOU, sign up for my next GIT Elevated Money Course today!