The main argument I hear people make against budgeting is that they want to enjoy today. In their mind, they think that a budget is all about planning for tomorrow and suffering today. Why put all your effort into the planning for the unknown future when you could leave this Earth tomorrow?
While I agree that we can go at any time, these people don’t understand the true meaning of a budget. Yes a budget is designed to help you reach your future goals, but you don’t have to sacrifice your happiness today in order to get there.
You can easily do both. This post is going to show you how to really live on a budget, be happy now, and make progress towards your future goals.
3 Keys To Enjoying Your Life While On A Budget
#1. Get Your Values Known
In order to make a successful budget, you need to know what you value most out of life. For some this might mean amazing vacations. For others it might mean quitting the rat race as soon as possible. Whatever it is for you, you have to first figure this out.
When you figure it out, you will know. This is because you will easily give up some things today in order to reach your goal. Now understand that when I say you give up some things today, I don’t mean you have to live unhappily.
What I mean by this is that you are probably spending money on things you think add value to your life but they really don’t. For example, you might be buying a new car every few years because you think it makes you happy. But that happiness wears off quickly and you need to buy another new car.
When you know what you truly value, this wasteful spending goes out the door. You will realize that a new car doesn’t add value to your life, so you will keep your current car longer, saving money.
It is critical you know what you value in life in order for your budget to work. So take some time to figure out what you value and your spending should change.
#2. Allow Yourself Some Freedom
Now that you know what you value and are spending less, you might think you need to put every last cent towards your future goals. You don’t. You should be putting an amount towards your future goals but you should also leave some for you to enjoy today.
If you try to go all in, you will get frustrated and will stop following your budget. I know because it happened to me.
When I graduated college, I wanted to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible. So I set up a very strict budget. So strict that I only allowed myself $25 a month for going out with my friends. The first month it was easy. The second month, I got mad. The third month I rebelled.
I learned that it wasn’t all or nothing. As long as I was putting a decent amount towards my debt each month, that was the goal. But I didn’t need to put everything.
I dialed back and left myself more fun money the next month. This solved everything. I stuck to my budget, was enjoying my present life and was working hard to pay off my student loans quickly.
#3. Be Willing To Adapt
Finally, in order for you to make a budget work, you have to be willing to adapt. Things will happen. Some months you might not be able to put as much money towards your debt or other goals as you would have liked.
But this doesn’t mean you should give up entirely. At the end of the month, review what happened. Was it something you could control? Like maybe you went out to dinner too many times? Or was it out of your control?
If it was in your control, you can take some corrective steps for the next month so that it doesn’t happen again. If it was out of your control, is there something you can do to lessen the blow? Maybe build up a larger emergency fund? Do more planning for one-time expenses that you never thought of?
The more you can change and adapt as the months pass, the better off you will be.
Overall, you have to remember that a budget isn’t an all or nothing thing. You can save for your future goals and still enjoy today. You just have to make sure you understand what you value most out of life and allow yourself some fun times in the present.
From there, you have to be willing to adapt and change as life happens, because as we all know, life does happen. Not all months will see a perfect budget. But the more you can go with the flow, the more success you will see long term.