Stop Being a Slave To Your Budget and Live a Little
Believe it or not, budgeting isn't always necessary to be financially responsible. Here's how you can live without a strict budget!
Since graduating high school, I’ve attended two universities. I’ve lived in four cities and in six very different houses. I’ve owned three cars and four bicycles. And I’ve traveled to 27 different states — mostly on whims.
I’m 26 years old. My lifestyle is constantly evolving. Life is too interesting to be restricted by budgets. Besides, budgeting is boring.
I’d rather herd cats than subject myself to a budget.
So how do you spend money wisely without needing a budget? You have to get your mind in the right place. This way, you don’t need any external forces (like a budget) to dictate your spending. Getting your mind in the right place may take some time, but it’s worth it.
How to Get Going on Your Budget
Think about what it takes for a human being to live in our society — food, shelter, health, transportation, clothing, and communication. That’s pretty much it. Your goal now is to focus on getting those costs as low as you’d like.
One way to do this is to look at your current situation — for example, housing — and see if you would feel comfortable moving to cheaper digs. Maybe you spend $1,000 on rent, but if you tried a little, you could find an equally nice place for only $800. Or you could try to negotiate with your landlord, stating why you’re a remarkable tenant. Make sure you’re spending as little as you are comfortable spending in each one of these major categories. Always strive to keep these core costs down as low as possible.
Next are your wants. Whenever I want something, I never buy it right away. I’ll sleep on it for a week or two. After such time, I rarely want it anymore. This has helped me save thousands over the years.
If I still want it, I see if I can get it used. That saves tons of money off retail. I do this with things like bicycles, cars, computer monitors, etc. – never anything too personal. If I can’t or don’t want to get it used, I shop around for the best new price.
Another trick is to think of how long you’ll have to work to pay for said item. There’s a YouTuber I’ve watched who owns a 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo. He’s my age, and he has a regular job in “finance and accounting.” He bought the car used for just under $100,000.
I’m willing to bet it will take him nearly two years of work just to recover the cost of that car. Thinking like this stops me from buying.
Put Things in Perspective
Something else I do is think about what the money could do otherwise. I think beyond what it could do for me. How many vaccines could that amount of money buy? How many kids could that feed? How many smiles could you create by randomly giving money to people who you don’t even know? Thinking of all these wonderful things always makes me laugh at some of my more ridiculous wants.
To make sure you never go too crazy with spending, monitor yourself. Maybe use an app to keep track of each spending category. If a category seems too high – like you’re spending more than 30 percent of your income on housing – a course correction is called for.
Another rule of thumb is to save at least 10 percent of your income. Everything else is pretty much up to you. Spend what feels right. You don’t need to be a slave to a budget. You got this.