Getting started with budgeting

So many reasons to do something else but we bat those reasons away and inspire you to get started.

The inertia thing

Like so many things, the hardest thing is to get going. When I go running I'm always negotiating with myself while I'm getting changed. Negotiating reasons not to go, thinking of other super important things to do. However, the moment I'm a few metres away from the house all those negotiations, reasons to do something else and the consequent tensions fly away.

Starting your budget is the same. Before you start there are loads of other things that you can make yourself believe are equally worthwhile. Also, at this point there is no meaningful plan (other than to get started) to ground and encourage you. The benefits probably seem so far away.

The truth is that the benefits are not so far away but there is some organising required before you start to feel your plan coming together and the consequent feeling that you are in control.

It's always good to remind yourself that sometime recently (perhaps right now) you were decisive. You decided to organise your finances. Maybe you also decided to look at software to help. Bask in the moment of your decisiveness but no for too long! Just get going.

It's complicated

Maybe another reason that put you off getting started was that you thought that you had to gather so much information about your spending patterns. Wrong, the history can be helpful but it's just the history. We want to encourage you from the very start to simplify and the starting point for this is to list your routine expenses, your income and your current cash in the bank. You don't need software for this. You can do this with pen and paper and you have still taken the most important first steps. However, that piece of paper may get lost or washed with your jeans. Good software will be with you all the time, backed up and accessible from your laptop, tablet or phone.

It will be too restrictive

You may worry that the financial truth will be ugly. Perhaps you are worried that you will need to cut down on too many of life's pleasures to be 'sensible'. Maybe you are super cautious and missing out on some of your bucket list items. Either way it does not matter. We encourage you to prioritise what's really important to you and to fit your spending around your lifestyle priorities. You'll also start to notice how few of your expenses are compulsory. That's not restrictive. That's liberating.

I'm bound to fall out

Yes you are. We all do. It doesn't matter as it's so easy to start again. In fact starting again is really useful as it encourages us to have another look at our lifestyle priorities and check that our spending is in line and that we are receiving good value.

But I can't budget for all eventualities

That's true, especially at the beginning of your plan but once again it doesn't matter. As your plan evolves over time you will capture more and more of the items that were difficult to see coming at the beginning. As that unforeseen car maintenance bill arrives, you will be encouraged to review whether you had previously included car maintenance in your plan or whether the amount you had considered was realistic. Think of it as each time a bill comes in, that is your opportunity to sharpen your plan and avert future surprises (the bad kind).

But I'm no good at this kind of thing

You don't have to be good at maths, or interested in finance or even be terribly organised. You just need to want to make a plan to control your money.

It's just boring

There is some organising to do. But once you're set up the maintenance is intuitive, quick and easy and often can be done on your laptop, tablet or phone. Not having a plan where your lifestyle priorities match your spending, now that's boring.