Wallet Hacks

The real reason you should be budgeting

Here's one thing I learned about myself, when I don't have a plan then minor setbacks can derail me emotionally.

I start to get down on myself for not doing more and I feel like I might fall further behind or fail to achieve a goal.

But in reality I have no idea. Minor setbacks rarely result in complete failure. I'm in my own head.

When does progress look like a straight line? NEVER.

If I need to go 500 miles in 100 days, a minor setback won't affect me if the larger goal is still on schedule. If my plan is five miles a day, I know I'll need to be around 50 miles through at the end of day ten. On the good days, maybe I do 10 miles. On bad days, only two. The plan helps keep me mentally checked in when my brain wants to check out after a bad two-mile day.

That's the gift of budgeting. Too many people view it as a financial straight jacket. It's not! It's a plan to help you achieve your financial goals.

And like all plans, it'll be tested.

As the great philosopher-poet pugilist Mike Tyson once said – “Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth.” Don't let your budgeting strategy get punched in the mouth.

Life will punch your budget in the mouth. Your car will break down, your kids will get sick, and your emergency fund will be stress tested.

But the budget keeps you sane. It keeps your head screwed on straight and in the game. And it keeps you from beating yourself.

How do you budget? Do you use a tool like Mint or one of it's many alternatives? I prefer Personal Capital (see our review of it) because it tracks our investments too.