NO! NO! Bad Budget!


Photo Credit: Lara604

After listening to Tara Siegel Bernard (Of NYTimes.com) on Public Radio’s Marketplace speak about finances, I realized I was right on track with letting go of my tight-ass budget.

Bernard suggests not setting up a budget. I, of course, have set up many budgets for myself. I start strict. I aim for perfection and, then, when I inevitably fail, I chastise myself and resolve to start anew again … perfectly. And so the cycle continues (you know, because I’m not perfect).

Bernard says you have to allow for fun and a budget typically does not factor fun in. This is the exact trap I often fall in. I give myself about $20 a month for leisure and envision myself sitting on my cozy couch, wrapped up in a blanket, drinking herbal tea, and reading a book from the library. No need for any more than 20 bucks a month to cover that!

But then, just as Bernard predicts, when I do go out, I go full-out! Because I have starved myself, I buy appetizer, dinner, dessert and a bottle of wine. I purchase 4 shirts instead of just the one. I pay for the friend who can’t afford to go out because I MUST GO OUT!

Well, after a few months of the perfection and failure tennis match, I relax a little with the extreme budgeting. I set-up some basic boundaries. I know all the important places money has to find its way to and I make sure it gets there. And I have some fun.

I stop sitting down at the computer to analyze every penny and every expense. I don’t expect perfection. I live my life and everything still gets paid on time and money still goes into savings as well as in my pocket. Life does seem to run a little smoother without the strict budget that requires nothing less than perfection (i.e. deprivation).

Though I did have a set-back when I noticed I wasn’t micromanaging my budget spreadsheet, and I panicked. I thought, Oh my gosh, I’ve completely failed. I’m back to my old ways of financial irresponsibility. When will I ever change?!?!

All the while, my finances were in order and I was enjoying my life. I made the act of typing out my financial numbers (the budget!) more important than my actual real-life relationship with money. Which was/is very good and getting better as time goes on.

Be sure to check out the articles I linked to. You will find a lot of useful information. And if you do, come back here and leave a comment. We would love to hear about you and your relationship with money.

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