There are plenty of people that hate the budget word simply because they think that having a budget would be too restrictive or too difficult to set up and maintain. It is true that budgets do take a bit of work, but from my experience, the benefits of budgeting far outweigh any time and effort that it takes to actually set up and keep a budget.
I personally love having a budget (at least most of the time!) and have found it to be a huge blessing in helping us manage our money. In fact, I think it’s only smart to use a budget and believe that anyone who wants to do well with their finances should be using one.
6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Budget
1. Gives Peace of Mind and Reduces Stress
I know, that’s a pretty big promise, right? But think about it. By creating a plan for where your money goes and how you will use it, you have one less thing to worry about. Your budget provides a structured way to think about your finances, pay off bills and live financially free. If a big expense comes up that you hadn’t anticipated, you can look at your various spending categories and try to find ways to reduce them to help compensate.
For example, last fall we had quite a few unexpected medical expenses due to some health issues that our son was having. We soon depleted our “Medical” budget category and so we had to figure out how we were going to pay those bills. After looking at our budget, we realized that we were under budget in several of our other budget categories (things like Home Decor and Clothing) and knew that we could probably make due in those categories and not need to purchase anything for at least several months. That allowed us to take the extra in those budget categories and put it toward our medical expenses. Between that and a few other budget tweaks, we were able to come up with enough money to pay those bills, which clearly gave us huge peace of mind!
Obviously, having a budget isn’t going to prevent emergencies from happening. Ultimately, God is in control and no matter how much you plan, you can’t control everything! But I believe that being good stewards of what we have means that we do everything we can to be smart in preparing for the expenses that we know we are going to have. And having a budget is of course a great way to do that!
2. Guilt Free Spending
Ever go shopping and come home with a knot in the pit of your stomach because you knew you spent more money than you should have? The great thing about budgeting is that you know how much money you have to spend and as a result, you can shop guilt free!
3. Helps You Meet Your Goals
Over the years we’ve had lots of different financial goals. Some of them were small goals like trying to stay under our $200/mo. grocery budget or not spending more than $150 on dates for the year. Other goals were bigger such as saving up for a bedroom suite, paying off our house in 5 years, setting aside money to cover the cost of our children’s births and making sure my husband could complete his schooling while remaining debt free.
Sure, we may have been able to do those things without a budget. But I can guarantee that they happened more quickly thanks to budgeting and being intentional with how we used our money.
4. Helps You Appreciate What You Have
The thing that many people (including myself!) don’t enjoy about having a budget, is that it often means doing without in some way. Unless you have lots of money, you simply can’t afford to get everything you want and live debt free. And let’s be honest, it’s simply not fun to feel like you are missing out on something you think you would like to have! But the flip side is that when you do without something, you tend to appreciate it more once you get it.
I often think of how we lived when we were first married. We had just bought our house and were as poor as the proverbial church mice. For a several months the only living room furniture we had was two camp chairs. Our dining room table? A card table that we had received as a wedding gift. We didn’t even have bedroom furniture and slept on a mattress on the floor and lived out of suitcases for a couple of months! No, it wasn’t ideal and if I knew someone was living like that now, I’d feel bad for them and probably feel like we should try to step in and help. But at the time it didn’t seem all that terrible because we had a purpose for living that way. We knew we did not want to go into debt and were determined to do whatever it took to stay debt free. We knew that by sacrificing for several months, we’d reap the long term benefits of living without debt, and that made it totally worth it!
And when we did finally get a couch, dining room table and bedroom furniture? Well, I promise you we appreciated them immensely! In fact, I remember feeling like we were living like royalty, which is kind of amusing now, 9 year later, because I daily take those things for granted.
5. Can Enable You to Live Debt Free
While using a budget obviously doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to live debt free, it’s definitely one of the best tools that you can use to get to that point.
We decided when we got married almost 8 years ago that we were going to live debt free no matter what, with the exclusion of our home mortgage. We did some pretty extreme things to make that happen but, by God’s grace, we’ve been able to do it. And as of 2 ½ years ago, we were able to pay off our mortgage and are completely and totally debt free. It is such a wonderful, free feeling and without a doubt, using a budget to help control our finances was absolutely key to accomplishing it!
6. Frees You to Give
Have you ever noticed that you are happier when you are living for more than just yourself? There is something about giving to and helping others that brings a joy that is hard to find through any other experience. The great thing is that when you use a budget and are intentional with your spending and saving, you can more easily be generous and give to others. And it’s so much fun!
We’ve chosen to give away at least 10% of our income to others and our budget always has reflected that. Sometimes we use that money to bless someone just for fun. But more often, we share with someone who’s going through a tough time financially or we give to a ministry or organization that will be able to use that money to help many other people. It is so incredibly rewarding to see the blessing spread out far beyond ourselves!
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What keeps you from budgeting? If you have a budget, what do you love about it?