Budgeting can seem completely overwhelming, particularly when people succumb to myths about saving and believe they have to sacrifice their lifestyle.
Here, The Wealth Tutor, Kristina Plimer, busts the top ten myths about budgeting that could be holding you back.
Myth 1) I’ll have to give up everything that makes life worth living.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. I divide all expenses into ‘essentials’ which we need to survive, ‘desirables’ which are things we’d like to have but do not need and ‘sanity savers’ which are those non-negotiables. When I was struggling with debt at university, my sanity savers were one beer and one DVD a week. They differ for every person but they can range from a coffee each morning to a holiday once a year. The worst possible thing you can do is deprive yourself of what makes you happy.
Myth 2) I have to be good with numbers and I barely passed tenth grade maths.
This is a fallacy and it’s a concern I hear time and time again. That’s what people like me are there for. Even setting up one consultation with a budgeting expert will help you see the numbers for the trees and set you on the right track.
Myth 3) Budgeting creates tension between couples because you end up arguing about what each other spends.
Unfortunately this can happen, and usually happens without a budget anyway, but it can certainly be avoided. Many couples find that budgeting is actually a relief and can ease tension in the relationship, because both parties feel in control and they know they have an allotted amount each week/month/year for ‘desirables’ and ‘sanity savers’.
Myth 4) I already know what I’m doing with my money.
Kristina says: If this is really the case, fantastic! However, I meet a lot of people who think they know what they’re doing with their money and still aren’t in the financial position they want to be in. One common complaint I get is that people can’t see any other ways they could be minimising their spending. The only way to get around this is to physically record everything you spend money on for a fortnight or a month and to go through it with a fine tooth comb. If you don’t face the monster, you will never see how small he really is.
Myth 5) Budgeting is just for people who are struggling to get by.
Kristina says: Every single person who is earning money should be budgeting in order to reach their financial goals. There is no two ways about it. My clients’ incomes range from 30k to 300k+. The approach differs but the concept is the same. It’s the only way to ensure you gain maximum enjoy of your life both now and in the future!
Myth 6) Money Mentors are so expensive and I can’t afford it – that’s why I’m in this situation to begin with!
This is valid but not all advisors are created equal and costs vary considerably. If I meet with a client who I can see is clearly in an extremely difficult financial situation and cannot afford my services, I would never take them on. That being said, some clients benefit from only one consult and my long-term clients have made the money back that they’ve spent on my services ten-fold because of the skills and knowledge they’ve developed.
Myth 7) I know that I’ll need to cut out those little luxuries like a coffee in the morning and I’m just not prepared to do that.
I’ve coined them ‘sanity savers’ for a reason. If something brings you enough happiness, it is well worth the money. However, if you find yourself buying a designer dress every time you’re down in the dumps we need to look at the psychological reasoning behind that and work out a cheaper (or free) way to perk yourself up when life gets tough.
Myth 8) A budget will stress me out because I’ll constantly be watching myself.
Actually, the opposite is true. It’s a proven fact that a budget gives people peace of mind because they feel in control of their finances and on track to achieving their goals. Instead, every time you hand over money, you will know that it is planned and will not impact the greater goal.
Myth 9) A budget is pointless because life is unpredictable and an unexpected medical bill is going to throw the entire thing off.
Bumps in the road are inevitable and at some stage, there will be an unforeseen expense, but even the unexpected can be planned for to a certain extent so that you can still meet your goal, but does binging on a family sized pizza mean you should throw in the towel and give up on eating healthy foods? No! The most important thing is to get back on track as soon as you can and not to beat yourself up about things that are out of your control.
Myth 10) Budgets are redundant because you are just plucking numbers out of the sky and as a result saving becomes unrealistic.
People do tend to come up with random numbers when deciding how much to save. If you are consistently trying to save $500 every fortnight and constantly pulling money out of your high-interest savings account, it will only make you feel like you are failing. You need to record your expenses and work out a realistic amount to stick to. This may take some trial and error and a little bit of homework but it’ll be worth it when you’re sunning yourself in Bali rather than looking at an empty bank balance!