Let’s talk about the B word: budget. Did that make you feel queasy, like you’re about to lose all your favorite things? Or did you start imagining how bored you’d be with all those upcoming complicated steps and math?
Even if you don’t consider yourself a budget person, chances are you do have a certain set of feelings and practices that make up your money mindset. The patterns and relationship you have with money, whether good or bad (no judgement), dictates how you save and spend, how much debt you have, if you feel like you can invest or give donations, and what you feel like your income potential is.
Your money mindset impacts the financial goals you reach and how you interact with money on a day-to-day basis. Even if traditional budgeting may not be your thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a system and positive money mindset to manage your funds.
Can you remember the last time you reviewed your thoughts around money and budgeting? Any chance you tracked them? If you wrote down those ideas, they may surprise you. Seeing what your money beliefs are, how ingrained they may be, mistakes you’ve made, and what lessons you were taught growing up about money can help you design a plan that works for you.
The idea here is identifying the patterns and thoughts that trip up your money mindset and discovering a better path forward that’s not a strict pen-and-paper-style budget, but still a financial plan that provides structure and peace of mind for the future. It’s taking control of your money mindset, saving for later-on purchases, and being flexible rather than adhering to a spreadsheet.
You’re not nickel-and-diming yourself, but being responsible with money and thinking about how your mindset affects your financial choices … or how the non-plan approach may hold you back from a strategy that leads you to saving and spending on what truly matters in your life.
Forget spreadsheets and calculators. Reframe budgeting so it’s not a chore that takes hours and create a simple way to take care of money business that combines self-care methods with a positive mindset. The strategies below provide guidelines and steps to improve your relationship with money, achieve your financial goals, and having fun in the process.
Mindful Spending Plan
Discovering your money mindset is how you learn to be mindful with your money. Do you use money to make you happy and that leads to overspending? Or are you living in the land of scarcity where there’s only a finite amount of money that you could have or earn?
The mindful spending plan isn’t about software, products, and apps. It’s more about changing how you think about saving and spending, how that mindset affects your future and current fun, and how to make your money work for you in positive ways. It’s empowering yourself through money awareness.
And that awareness can show you that you’re spending in areas that don’t bring true happiness into your life. Maybe what you spend on gives you a boost in the short term, but runs you dry in the long term. But you wouldn’t be able to see these issues without being aware, and you may not be able to create confidence around your money choices without a mindful approach.
Think about what you want out of your life, and how you can move your money in that direction, away from splurges and impulse decisions, and on a journey toward your ideal goals and lifestyle.
Do your purchases align with your true self and who you want to be in the future? Will future-you be proud of this purchase, or are you continuing harmful money patterns? Checking in with your thoughts and staying aware puts you in control, steers you toward a positive money mindset, and creates healthy spending and saving, no complex budgeting necessary.
When you automate your finances with apps and tools, you set up your withdrawals for spending and saving while eliminating the need to track the heck out of your money. The set-it-and-forget-it method is more about getting out of your own way so you can have a good time with the money that’s easily visible in your spending account. Monthly bills are handled by your tech tools and you don’t have to fuss over every transaction.
After initial set up, you can check in on platforms and apps like Mint, PocketSmith, YNAB (You Need a Budget), MoneyPatrol, or Personal Capital, use a single debit or credit card, or set up a pay-as-you-go card so all your transactions are in one place. You can skip the manual boringness and instead set up a system that electronically performs all your budgeting tasks, and makes it easy to spot any changes.
When your money is run by robots, you can feel good about your bills getting paid, handling your funds, and executing a plan that doesn’t feel overwhelming or stuffy. You’re also saved from extra splurges or heading down the wrong money path; you can only use the cash in your spending account and that number is easily seen within your app, platform, or software of choice.
If you often feel restrained by traditional budgeting, that it’s an all-or-nothing process that sucks the fun out of having extra money to spend on adventures, then a save-so-I-can-spend-later plan may work for you. Here, you’re specifically setting aside extra cash for future fun. That way, you have peace of mind when it comes to spending that money without having to worry about it impacting your expenses or bills, or tracking every dollar. You can even take your future-fun money out as cash so it’s tangible.
The goal is to spend and have a good time, but at a later date that you’ve planned for. Freedom to use your money as you wish in purposeful ways that are easy to remember and track. Plus, seeing the growth of your spending balance builds excitement for the allotted purchase, you don’t have to stress about any and all spending, and you can check the amount quickly to see what’s available for spending to use your money wisely for smarter purchases that make you happy.
Figuring out how to manage your money in a way that works for you is about switching from a mindset that budgeting is the dreaded B-word to a simple, positive process that emphasizes joyful living within your limits. You don’t end up letting your budget be the boss of you, but rather, you’re now the boss of your budget and it works for you.