Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bike? I remember my sisters and parents trying to teach me, but I wasn’t trying hard. When no one was looking, I guided my bike to the top of our driveway (there was a gradual slope), took my feet off the ground, and coasted to the end.
My family was proud of me, but it took patience, practice, and some motivation.
The same goes for budgeting, and too many families fail to get started for various reasons. Below are some myths or excuses you may have encountered yourself.
Budgeting Didn’t Work This Month
Like learning to ride a bike, it will take a couple of tries before you feel comfortable. I tell my new clients to give it 4 months (or 4 budgets) before they give up. In fact, after about 6 months, you’ll feel like an expert.
The process usually goes like this:
- 1st Budget – Forgot to include a whole bunch of stuff. Redo the budget.
- 2nd Budget – Remembered all the other stuff but forgot the car needs an oil change.
- 3rd Budget – It’s December and I didn’t set any money aside for holiday shopping.
- 4th Budget – Remembered birthdays, car repair fund is good, and paid off some extra debt.
Don’t expect the budget to be a magical cure. Pretend it’s a table saw that takes some training and practice.
Budgeting is Too Complicated
The basics of budgeting are to track the money coming in, track the money going out, and plan not to overspend. I can definitely understand the concern of the budget being too complicated.
When my wife and I first started to budget, we would argue back and forth about a lot of the little things. Where to categorize makeup? Where does dish soap go? What about toilet paper? Finally, we decided to make the whole process easier by creating a “Toiletries/Cleaning” budget. If it’s used in the bathroom or cleans the house, it gets shoved into this category.
The rules of football are complicated. But after watching so many games, you get used to it.
I’m Not Good at Math
There are two pieces of really good news if you’re not a math whiz:
- Budgeting is mostly addition and subtraction with a little bit of multiplication and division.
- There are plenty of free apps and websites to help you.
It has been estimated the iPhone 6 is about 120 million times faster than the computer for Apollo 11. You don’t have to be good at math because we nerds have created beautiful technology to help you out.
You don’t have to know how to build a car to drive it. You also don’t have to be good at math to use a calculator.
I Don’t Have Time to Budget
I mention this last because it’s the excuse that has the most validity. Learning how to budget will take time, and I guarantee your first budget will take at least an hour to create. After that, every budget will take less and less time.
The first time I installed a fan in my office, my parents were visiting and I had my dad help me. Since we didn’t know what we were doing, it took us at 3 hours to install the fan. After we were done, I didn’t put another fan in my house for over six months. When I finally decided to put a fan in my bedroom, I had learned enough lessons from the first experience that I installed the next one in less than an hour by myself.
Every month that you budget will teach you a new lesson, and the next budget will be faster. And the next one will be faster. And the next one will be faster.