Budgeting Made Easy? Don't Believe It!
The primary reason most people fail at budgeting is because they've been led to believe that it should be easy, and therefore should not require any significant commitment of time and energy.
Well, I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, budgeting is NOT simple, nor can it be "made easy."
Believing budgeting is easy, instead of meticulously tracking their spending so they can more accurately predict future surpluses or shortages, most people quickly throw together a simplistic and unrealistic budget based on grossly-optimistic speculation. As a result they eventually give up on budgeting all together when their pathetic attempt fails to produce any results.
The reason budgeting is difficult (NOT easy), is because it's not easy to deny yourself the lifestyle that most Americans feel they are simply entitled to.
Instead of being taught to grow slow, paying as we go, we are taught that upon leaving school we are entitled to a luxurious home, a fancy car, extravagant vacations, and the latest release of every electronic gadget known to mankind.
But what most people fail to realize, is that this notion of material entitlement is what causes most Americans to lose the most important of all First Amendment rights ... their freedom.
Instead of being financially free to spend to their time serving others based on how much they enjoy their work and to what extent that work serves to solve a problem that's important to them, most Americans enslave themselves in a mountain of debt right out of school.
In turn, this forces most to choose jobs based on whatever higher paying job comes along next, rather than on how well the jobs are suited to their talents, abilities, genuine interests, and personal and family values.
If someone tries to tell you that budgeting is easy, I suspect it's because they are trying to sell you a product or service that claims to do just that. So do your own budget a big favor by declining to purchase whatever they are trying to sell you.
You don't need a computer, fancy budget software, or even a monthly budget calculator to create a budget. All you really need is a pencil, some paper, the ability to add and subtract, and one more thing that I will get to in a moment.
The Importance of Budgeting
If you don't care how you spend the time you have left on this earth, then I would tell you that budgeting is of little importance to you.
On the other hand, if you desire to spend your days serving others by performing a work that you enjoy and believe in, and you long for the freedom to spend more quality time with your loved ones, then I would tell you that budgeting is absolutely crucial to achieving those desires.
Take if from someone who's been down that road, going from being trapped in an unfulfilling job to discovering and pursuing a self-fulfilling work requires an ever increasing degree of freedom from financial obligations.
And the only way you can free yourself from financial obligation is to create a realistic budget that is based on your past spending habits, and then to work hard at trying to improve your spending habits so that you can first stop increasing your debt, and later accelerate the repayment of your debt. None of this is easy, but it is doable.
Budgeting Skill Is Not The Key To Success
Since I personally know accountants and loan officers that have dug themselves into financial slavery, I'm quite certain that it's not your level of budgeting skill that will determine whether you succeed or fail at budgeting.
Instead, I believe the key to successful budgeting is having the right motivation. In other words, if you don't know exactly why you are making sacrifices and denying yourself pleasures, then you will not have the motivation you need to create and live within a budget -- regardless of your budgeting skill level.
For me, the right motivation came in 1993. That was the year I stopped mindlessly believing what others had been telling me would make me happy (most of whom were trying to sell me something), and instead started thinking for myself.
After several months of self-analysis and countless hours seriously questioning everything I'd been taught, I took everything I had gleaned from my soul-searching and used it to create a blueprint for what I considered to be my perfect day (doing what I truly love for people and causes that are dear to me).
That blueprint proved to be the exact carrot I needed to start giving personal money management the priority it had always deserved. While this did not make it easy to forgo instant gratification for the sake of achieving meaningful, long-term desires, it helped to know exactly why I was making the sacrifices and exactly what was in it for me.
Once you have the right motivation for creating and living within a budget you too will be able to forgo instant gratification in exchange for meaningful long-term gratification -- which is the ultimate key to successful budgeting.