I am a super dork and find some kind of sick peace in running my budget, allocating all of my dollars and cents, and getting my end number to come to zero.
I love excel sheets. I love the old-fashioned paper and pen. I’ve experimented with apps and messed with slush funds. As circumstances have changed through my life, I’ve used different types of budgets that fit my paycheck lifestyle.
One thing never changes, though. It’s the singular rule that keeps me money zen instead of money stressed. It’s the golden rule of budgeting.
Budget Liberally. Spend Conservatively.
Budgeting liberally means when you think you’ll spend $75 on gas this month, you budget $100. It means that however much you think you’ll need, you schedule in more. It means not fudging the numbers to an unrealistic low in order to fit your income.
When you get your numbers, you can see if you need to hustle to bring in more. This is far better than getting to the end of the month and realizing you should’ve hustled to earn more, because now you don’t have enough food to put on the table.
Be frugal. Cut coupons. Don’t make impulse purchases. Use whatever tricks you have up your sleeve to come in under that liberal budget you drew up at the beginning of the month. Way under is preferable.
If something comes up during the month where you have to spend a little more than you were expecting, you’re prepared. Instead of being low on cash, you’ll have more leftover than you were expecting. Any extraneous checking account funds at the end of your pay period can go into savings. You won’t have to pull out the credit card, and you can watch your net worth, instead of debt, grow and grow and grow.
This is the underlying philosophy I have used to write all of my budgets. What are your budgeting philosophies?