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The key to smart budgeting is learning how to tell yourself, "No"

By Mike Thayer

BudgetBudgeting can mean a variety of different things to different people.....

For some folks, budgeting means pay yourself first by putting 10 or 15% away in savings every paycheck, leaving the rest for bills and living.

For others, budgeting means using an accordion file or the envelope system, putting dollars in segmented categories for bills, clothes, rent/mortgage, food, entertainment, etc.

For still others, budgeting can mean "I'm going to go on a diet of Ramen for awhile so I can afford to buy that new couch."

But there's something all these budget approaches have in common that make them work....

Discipline, the ability to tell yourself "No" when tempted to purchase that delivery pizza for dinner or buy that item of clothing just because it's trendy or on sale.

That's no easy task.  But as finance guru Dave Ramsey so aptly puts it, "When you see planning a budget as simply spending your money intentionally, you can actually find more freedom to spend! Once something has been budgeted for, you’ll be able to spend that money without feeling guilty."

It's a frame of mind.

Always keep your goals in mind when tempted by impromptu and/or frivolous satisfactions like a convenient fast food meal or buying a new fishing rod that you really don't need.

The ability to say "No" leads to success.  Never mind that telling yourself "No" is WAY better than saying, "Oh Shit, I don't have enough money for the electric bill!"

Once you've covered the basics in a monthly budget, food, transportation, utilities and shelter, it becomes easier to tell yourself "No" on other things, those feel good or impulse buys. 

Here's another way to look at it, ask yourself three things before buying something that really isn't in your budget or what you haven't saved up for:

What do you have?

What do you want?

What will you give up?

Asking yourself these three questions help you think through making a purchase you may regret later. 

If you have some food in your refrigerator, but you want to order that delivery pizza, are you willing to give up that $20 you need to put gas in your car to get back and forth to work next week?   Oooops, don't get the pizza, don't go digging in the couch cushions for gas money later....  Just don't....  Eat the leftovers in the fridge.

Or how about:

You have $1,000 in savings.

You love to fish and want to buy a fishing kayak.

Will you give up the comfort of having some money in the bank should some kind of emergency pops up?  What if you need some kind of car repair?

And don't think about putting a car repair bill on plastic, that only compounds your problem.

Learning how to tell yourself "No" is WAY better than accumulating debt.

Budgeting a.k.a. planning ahead, isn't a bad thing, it's simply smart money management.  Learning how to tell yourself "No" however is the hardest part of budgeting to master.  Once you get that down though, you'll enjoy financial success.   To quote Dave Ramsey again, "Once something has been budgeted for, you’ll be able to spend that money without feeling guilty."

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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