Many years ago the idea of tracking my expenses and writing a budget made my skin crawl. I remember one day in college my mom forced me to come home and take control of my finances. You see, I had a set amount of money to last me through the semester and it was gone within 3 months. I had to call my mom with my head hung low asking for help (more money). Her condition was that I would come home and we would sit down together to track my expenses for the past month. Boy was that a wakeup call. I could not believe how much money I was spending on eating out and clothes. Got a good grade on a test? Go to the mall and buy a new outfit as a reward! Need to study? Head to the coffee shop and buy coffee, a sandwich, and dessert. All of that added up and I wasn’t even noticing. Thus began my love-hate relationship with budgeting and financial awareness. I loved tracking my expenses, but I always felt that I was limited and couldn’t do what I wanted! What I realize now is that I needed to change my mindset.
If you feel like budgeting will hold you back and control you, then you have to shift your mindset. Instead of seeing the budget as controlling you, you have to control the budget. Here’s the thing, you are in charge of what your budget says. If you want to spend money at the mall and indulge in too many mocha lattes to count (guilty here) then you can! All you have to do is plan for your spending in advance. You might be wondering about spontaneity. Life is so boring without those spontaneous moments where we just go with the flow! Well, you can plan for spontaneity too. Our family has a separate line in our budget named “Fun Money.” This is money set aside strictly for whatever arises. We don’t feel guilty for doing something fun that wasn’t originally planned in advance because we technically planned for it already!
Still having trouble shifting your mindset? Take a look at these examples below and see if you can relate:
Fixed Mindset: Making a budget will take control away from what I want to do.
Growth Mindset: Making a budget gives me control over my money so that I can do what I want to do.
Fixed Mindset: I have already blown my budget. The whole month is a wash. Might as well spend whatever I want!
Growth Mindset: I made these unexpected purchases. I will use this as a lesson to be more mindful in the future.
Fixed Mindset: I need (insert item/experience here) to be happy!
Growth Mindset: My happiness does not stem from possessions or experiences. My happiness comes from within.
These are all examples of where I started many years ago. Over time I learned that budgeting wasn’t the problem, I was the problem. And good thing I’m in control of myself, because I can change and you can too!
Have you ever struggled with changing your mindset when it comes to finances? I’d love to hear in the comments!