Budgeting is Like Dieting

Budgeting is a lot like dieting. Crazy I know. Please let me explain. Often times at the beginning of the year, we decide to make a list of new year resolutions; exercising, dieting, budgeting, etc. Most individuals get off to a great start, but later comes the binge eating or disappointing Dave Ramsey by falling off the budget wagon.

We all have good intentions right? You keep track of all your expenses and calculate that you can save $500, $1,000 or even $1,500 a month if you drastically cut your expenses. This, in my humble opinion, is the first mistake. When you drastically cut something you are going to feel it immediately.

A lot of times when people go on a diet they cut the amount of calories by so much that they are basically starving themselves. Yes, you will sometimes lose a quick five pounds, but eventually level off. Within two or three weeks you cannot stand it anymore and fall off the wagon. Let the binge eating begin. Budgeting is a lot like that because if you create a budget that radically changes your lifestyle quickly, it will be hard to keep doing it.

Instead, try gradually reducing your expenses by selecting one or two expenses and cut it by 15%. For example, let’s say you spend $100 dollars a month on eating out. If you reduce that by 15% and that would give you $85 dollars to still spend toward eating out. Are you really going to feel the money pinch on that? Probably not, but it slowly allows you to start reigning in your expenses. You can easily keep reducing that expense each month if needed. In time, you will see a significant difference in the budget. It is all about SUSTAINABILITY.

I continuously go back to the notion of gradually reducing expenses and finding a realistic number to save because I strongly believe that is the right recipe for getting your finances in order. Extreme budgeting or dieting is not a long term solution in my opinion, merely an unsustainable method that is destined to fail. Now that does not mean you cannot find creative ways to save money, but do not set yourself up for failure. Remember, baby steps in the beginning. If you have a well thought out plan, self-discipline and a little luck, anything is possible. My challenge to you, is pick one expenditure and reduce that by 15% and see if it had a major impact on your lifestyle. What are your thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Budgeting is Like Dieting”

  1. Agreed. Some people can do the whole Dave Ramsey thing but it is hard. I’ve listened to him in the past and some of his ideas are good but some don’t make a ton of sense for other people. And the $1,000 baby emergency fund – for a lot of us, that isn’t enough. And then he wants you to get a beater car to save money. When you have a beater car, guess what? Unless you’re very mechanically inclined, it might cost you more in repairs than that baby emergency fund can handle.

    I need to be better at tracking my expenses. I try to challenge myself on a lot of days to just not spend anything. Less stuff to keep track of on those days! 🙂

    But you are right – it is like dieting. Small gradual changes can really add up in the long run. I have gotten rid of a lot of extraneous stuff and wants and needs and I have a smaller data plan for my phone. I don’t miss things like cable TV at all!!

    1. I think Dave Ramsey means well and tries to get people started toward getting their finances together, but the $1,000 baby emergency fund would definitely not work for me. I do try to find deals on cars. I will never spend more than $10,000 on a car and I only pay with cash. I have had some issues with my cars over the years, but I just do the best I can. I can change my oil, but that is about it.

      We all can improve tracking our expenses. I sometimes fall off the wagon, but I still reach my financial goal each month. Sometimes it is just not pretty getting there. Like anything, small steps are important and within time you start to build better habits. I am weak in one regard, cable TV. I just can’t give up the Walking Dead. Thank you for your comment. You made me think again. I am starting to think you have special powers.

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