The Importance of Having a Budget
I lived the majority of my adult life without a budget. What’s worse, growing up, my Mom didn’t have a budget. Like, ever. It took me years of constant struggles to finally see the importance of having a budget. And I will never look back.
I can’t not stress enough the importance of having a budget. It can truly be the difference between barely scraping by, and having enough money for everything you need.
Sadly, the majority of Americans live without a budget. In fact, roughly around 60% of Americans have no set budget. I think it is possible that many don’t even realize the importance of having a budget.
I believe the root of this issue is pride. Yep, you read that right. See, I feel like most budgetless (Is that even a word?) people feel like to put themselves in a budget, live within their means, and (gasp!) be realistic about their situation puts them at a disadvantage.
All because of the so-called, and elusive “American Dream”. The American Dream is actually the not-so-fertile soil where this sense of (senseless) pride takes purchase, and attempts to grow.
Confused? OK, let me explain myself a bit better.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines American Dream as “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S., especially by working hard and becoming successful. With good jobs, a nice house, two children, and plenty of money, they believed they were living the American dream.”
This way of thinking, or motto has been a staple in people’s minds for a very long time. However, it can, and is extremely concerning that it portrays dream as something close to a checklist. So, if you have those things, then you are living the dream, no matter how you accomplish it, right? Right?
In truth, this unrealistic dream has long being forgotten by those in power, leaving those of us with less money, power, and connections to scramble to achieve, do, get, and pretend. It’s like a very twisted show-n-tell game, where we struggle to achieve the “dream”, and show others how amazing we are doing, without really being able to keep up with the times.
In comes pride, making an unnecessary appearance. Pride takes over, making our important money decisions for us. And so we then rent or buy a house we can’t afford, go on vacations that are way above our means, and buy the biggest, and most expensive of cars, electronics, and other knacks. It makes us feel like we have made it. We are living the dream!
But are we really?
See, if you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, bills, put food on the table, and more, then it’s not really a dream. It’s a nightmare. If you strongly depend on credit cards, have a ridiculously high monthly car and/or mortgage payment, and have no clue where your money went, then you are in need of help. Big time.
In comes a budget
A budget is nothing but a sanity-saving tool. It exists with one goal, and one goal only: to keep you on track. Having a budget, and a realistic one at that, is like having a plan to build a house. You wouldn’t go about building a house without a very specific, and detailed plan now, would you? If you did, then chances are you will mess up the building process big time!
That’s literally like putting the cart before the horse. On purpose! Living without a set budget is the most effective way to achieve a life of constant struggles. It is also the road to never-ending debt.
Do I really need a budget?
That would be the ultimate question, right? The short answer is yes, you do. Here is the thing: No matter how much money you make, or how amazing it feels to just get what you want. If you don’t have a proper budget, you will surely find yourself in trouble, sooner of later.
Because a budget is not only for poor people. Far from that. Having a budget means you are in control of your money. You tell it where to go, and when. It is yours to command, not the other way around. A budget is then, a liberating tool, established by you, and therefore, controlled by you.
What is a budget?
Sticking to The Webster Merriam dictionary, I found that they define a budget in several ways. The Finance portion of it states that:
b : a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures
- develop a budget for her company
c : the amount of money that is available for, required for, or assigned to a particular purpose
- a weekly budget for a family of five
- a budget of less than $3000
Simply put, a budget is a realistic way of looking into the monetary resources available to a person, family, company, country, etc. I like to think of a budget as “putting all my cards on the table”. When I look at it that way, it makes my life a lot simpler.
The Importance of Having a Budget
Setting up a proper budget is then, a must. For anyone, and everyone. You might think that it will feel limiting, but that is far from the truth. In fact, having a budget that works for you, and that is well done, and realistic will most likely become the most powerful money tool ever. Not a credit card, a loan, or an almost-always empty bank account. A budget.
I have another analogy for you: everybody has the same 24-hr days, the same 7-day weeks, and the same 365-days years. How is it then, that some accomplish soooo much, and others so little? How is it that some manage to run a household with multiple kids, a job, volunteer work, and much more, while some single people struggle to even find the time to read a book?
I can tell you how. It’s all in HOW you use your resources. That’s the secret sauce.
Tell me, have you also struggled with money? Do you have a budget? If not, why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!