It’s been written before on this site about the importance of having a budget . And I know that many people don’t like hearing the word budget. It gives them an image in their head of restricting their spending and not being able to enjoy today, but rather have to suffer and sacrifice for tomorrow.
In reality, if you choose to look at a budget in a positive light, it’s not such a bad thing. It really is a tool for helping you to achieve the financial life you want to live. Will you have to watch what you spend in some areas? Of course! But it isn’t as bad as many of us make it out to be in our heads.
In fact, think about all of the various times you dread doing something. You probably build it up and up in your head and fear the worst. Then when it actually happens, it isn’t so bad.
My Mom is a good example here. She talks all of the time about getting rid of her flip phone for a smartphone. I let her play with mine and she always talks about how complicated it is. It really is her fear talking.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and my sisters and I made her take the plunge. We were tired of her talking about getting one all of the time. We got her one. At first she was worried. But here we are now and we can’t get her to stop playing games on it!
The point is, creating and following a budget isn’t as bad as you think. But, let’s argue that you still don’t care and refuse to make a budget. What then? Are you left to live a life of never reaching your financial goals? Not necessarily. In fact, if you just follow 2 steps I lay out below, odds are you will reach most, if not all of your financial goals. What are these 2 steps?
The Two Steps To Help You Succeed Financially
#1: Save First, Not Last
The first step is all about saving first, not last. Most of us spend and whatever is left at the end of the month, we save that. But how much do we save by taking this approach? If you are like the average American, the answer is either zero or very close to it.
How do you expect to get ahead financially if you are never saving and growing your wealth? The simple answer is you won’t.
So I encourage you to save first. When you get paid, move $100 to your savings account. Or make sure you are investing 10% of your paycheck into your 401k plan at work. Heck, do both!
When you save first, you guarantee you are saving something each month as opposed to saving a couple of bucks here and there.
If you just save $100 a month, that is $1,200 a year. Over 10 years you saved yourself over $12,000!
Once you save some money, you are free to spend the rest however you feel like it. It doesn’t matter if you spend it all because you’ve already saved.
#2 Don’t Spend More Than You Have
Once you save first and spend everything else, things aren’t 100% complete just yet. You can spend everything that is left, but you can’t spend one dollar more. In other words, you cannot go into debt.
If you want a new pair of shoes and they are $100 and you only have $50, then you have to wait until next month. Same goes for a vacation. If the trip costs you more than you have in your account, you can’t go.
By avoiding debt, you guarantee that you will get ahead financially. If you end up spending more than you have, you will never get ahead financially. You will be swimming upstream as you try to keep your head above water.
I know it is tempting to just buy it because you want it, but you have to show some self-restraint here, some discipline. If you can do this, you will improve your finances greatly.
So there you have it. The goal is to create and follow a budget. But if you still resist, at least follow these two steps. Save something first and then spend everything you have left, but not anymore. When you do this, you ensure that you will be moving ahead financially and not falling behind.
In the event you aren’t moving fast enough towards your financial goals, the answer is simple, just save some more money each month. Then as before, you can spend whatever is left over.
While this strategy isn’t as great as a budget, it is a good first step to help you get your finances in control. And who knows, after doing this for a few months, you may come to realize that creating a budget isn’t so bad after all.