Stop Using These 5 Excuses Not to Budget


Ask people why they forgo making and adhering to a budget, and you'll hear a number of reasons that sound perfectly valid. Unfortunately, those "reasons" are usually nothing more than excuses.

If you've decided not to budget for any of the following reasons, it's time to recognize them for what they are: excuses that are holding you back from reaching your financial goals. Here's how you can overcome these excuses and take control of your money. (See also: Boost Your Savings With This Easy Budgeting System)

1. "I have an irregular income."

Perhaps your income varies from month to month. Your irregular income could be the result of an irregular work schedule, a job that relies on tips or commissions, the vagaries of freelancing, or the realities of owning a small business. In any case, no matter why your income changes from month to month, you know that budgeting is simply impossible in your situation. After all, every single budget recommendation out there starts with the idea that you know what your monthly income will be. (See also: The 7 Worst Financial Excuses That Are Keeping You Poor)

Overcoming this excuse

While irregular income can make it a little more challenging to set up a budget, the process is hardly impossible. And with an irregular income it is even more important to have a budget to help you weather the lean months that those with a steady paycheck are less likely to see. Best of all, once you adhere to your irregular-income budget, you'll no longer feel the big shifts between flush months and paying-rent-with-couch-change months.

To overcome this excuse, you need to start by figuring out your bare minimum expenses each month, and putting aside excess money whenever you can. As time goes by, you'll find that you are easily able to make ends meet when you get a string of terrible tippers or a client whose "check is in the mail" for weeks on end.

2. "My expenses are always changing."

The other side of the irregular income excuse is the belief that your expenses are too irregular to be able to properly budget. This is a common excuse among new homeowners who have learned that the '80s film The Money Pit was more documentary than comedy. When you have no idea what major homeowner expense will crop up next, it can feel pointless to try budgeting.

However, not just homeowners are susceptible to this excuse. Anyone who has been overwhelmed by medical bills, irregularly-spaced insurance premiums, educational expenses, car repairs, and other "fun" financial surprises might think that budgeting is simply impossible. (See also: 5 Big Winter Expenses That Could Freeze Your Budget)

Overcoming this excuse

To overcome this budgeting excuse, you need to start by determining the difference between your irregular but predictable expenses, and truly unexpected expenses.

When it comes to irregular expenses, you might be surprised every six months when your car insurance premium comes due, but you can't truly categorize the bill as unexpected. It's a predictable expense that is very easy to forget about because of how infrequently it happens.

You can go back over last year's bank and credit card statements to see which predictable but irregular expenses you routinely forget about. Once you've come up with your list, add up how much you spend per year for all of these predictable-but-irregular expenses, divide the result by twelve, and start setting aside that amount every month. When your irregular expenses come due, then you'll have the money already set aside to pay for them.

But what about the unexpected expenses? You don't know that you'll need emergency dental surgery or that your kitchen sink will back up over a holiday weekend, so how do you budget for such surprises?

These sorts of expenses are one of the reasons why every personal finance expert recommends you create an emergency fund. Having a fund set aside specifically for unanticipated expenses means you can handle an emergency without busting your budget. (See also: 7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0)

3. "I'm too busy."

We all know that budgeting is a big time suck. You have to set up spreadsheets, write down every penny you spend, reconcile accounts, and review your progress on a regular basis.

Ain't nobody got time for that, least of all you.

You're too busy trying to make ends meet to have any time to create a budget, track your spending, and painstakingly enter all that information into an Excel document.

Overcoming this excuse

The idea that budgeting needs to be a time-consuming process is simply untrue. While a newbie budgeter will probably need to set aside at least a couple of hours to first create a brand-spanking new budget, the actual work of budgeting takes very little time, especially now that there are so many apps and websites out there that will track your spending for you.

Once you know how much you bring in, how much you spend, and how much you want to save, then the only time commitment you have to make for budgeting is taking 15-20 minutes each week to make sure you're on track, and adjust your spending accordingly.

If you are so time-swamped that the idea of taking the initial two hours to create your budget is overwhelming, then you need to recognize the time benefits of planning. According to time management expert Brian Tracy, "every minute spent in planning saves as many as 10 minutes in execution." This is also true for budgeting — every minute you spend creating a budget saves you time, money, and stress in the future. (See also: 6 Common Excuses for Not Saving Money)

4. "Budgeting is boring."

Budgeting is not exactly up there with riding a motorcycle in terms of an exciting way to spend a sunny afternoon. You need to find financial information from your various accounts, track your dollars spent, and maybe do a little math as well. Why would anyone choose to budget when they could binge-watch Stranger Things instead?

Overcoming this excuse

The trick to overcoming this excuse is to listen to the advice of Mary Poppins:

In every job that must be done

There is an element of fun

You find the fun and snap!

The job's a game

In other words, if you find budgeting boring, you need to find something you enjoy about creating your budget. Perhaps you'd love using an app that make your budget feel like a game, or you'd enjoy coloring in a goal-tracker as you get closer to your financial goals. You can find a way to make your budget something you look forward to, rather than dread. (See also: 7 Apps That Make Budgeting Fun — No Really!)

5. "I'm bad at math."

Math anxiety can feel pretty debilitating. You hate it when you go out to dinner and the bill doesn't provide you with suggestions for the tip. You never bother shopping with cash, because the total at the cash register is never anything close to the amount you came up with in your head. And you don't worry about making a budget because you know your math skills just aren't up to the challenge. You'd love to have a better handle on your money, but the idea of doing that much math makes you queasy.

Overcoming this excuse

Anyone who breaks into a cold sweat at the thought of calculating numbers can breathe a sigh of relief, because in the modern world, we're a long way from having to use paper and a pencil to calculate our budgets.

In fact, it's entirely possible to budget without doing much (if any!) math. That's because the majority of the budgeting sites and apps out there will do a great deal of the tracking and calculating for you. All you have to do is keep an eye on the program and adjust your spending as necessary. Your math phobia doesn't have to get in the way of conquering all of your financial dreams. (See also: 5 Excuses We Need to Stop Making About Overspending)

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