How Using a Budget Can Give You Freedom You Never Realized.
Have you ever thought about a budget as being restrictive? Like maybe if you had to use one you would feel controlled and penned in like a domesticated animal? Do you see boundaries or a budget as limiting your freedom? Maybe you need to discover what a budget actually is, and how it can open the doors to financial freedom that you never knew existed?
Join me as we explore boundaries, and the true freedom they create.
A boundary is just that: a line not to be crossed. Some boundaries can be more flexible, while others must be adhered to in the strictest sense. For example, when we leave a store, we tell our kids not to run into the parking lot. They are small and hard to see. And the risk of them being hit by a moving car is much greater than for my wife or I. This is a boundary that they can never cross. It’s for their safety and well-being.
An example of a more flexible boundary is junk food. We try to limit the amount of junk food they consume. But we also allow them to make some decisions on their own. While we set up a boundary of how much they can eat, we do sometimes bend it every so often depending on the occasion. And while this boundary is also for their well-being, the consequences are much less sudden and severe.
So Where Exactly is the Freedom?
In the example of walking in a parking lot, my daughter, for example, has the freedom the enjoy her walk through the parking lot however she wishes. She often chooses to jump and skip her way to the car. Sometimes she sings to herself. And while she doesn’t get to run wherever she chooses (I’m holding her hand), she does get to experience the parking lot within the boundaries I’ve set up. So you could say she has some limited freedom.
And before you say that limited freedom isn’t freedom, think about this. It’s the same with you and your finances. You may think you have absolute freedom, but you don’t. Your freedom is limited as well. You only have so much money to work with. And you have financial obligations that limit your pile of money even more. So you already have boundaries set up whether you wanted them or not.
But wouldn’t you rather have control over the boundaries and restrictions placed on your finances? If you have debt of any kind, you’ve already given up that control. You’ve already limited yourself. And if you don’t have a budget, your finances are most likely chaotic. You don’t know how much you have, and how much is coming in or going out. You have no goal or path to follow. Which to me sounds more like anarchy than true freedom.
Are You Ready to Embrace Controlled Boundaries to Win Back Some Freedom?
The first step to regaining your freedom is to create a budget. And the first step to creating a budget is to track your spending, so that you can reasonably set up your budget spending categories. While it takes some work up front, it is worth it in the end. Having the fence of your budget set up can help to safeguard your monthly cash flow. It prevents you from impulse spending. Because you shouldn’t buy something if it’s not in the budget.
Don’t be tempted to look at your budget as an “I can’t buy what I want” restriction. Instead look at it as a “This is what I can buy” freedom, because I planned it. No one ever said you can’t plan cool, fun things into your budget. The point is to plan it, and to not just spend out of control.
And if you feel your budget is too restrictive, it’s ok to loosen it up a little bit. Of course, if you have consumer debt (car, credit card, payday loans, or personal loans), you need to buckle down and get rid of that debt before you loosen up the budget. My wife and I have been consumer debt free for years, and it is awesome having more control over our money.
So, Have I Convinced You that a Budget is Freeing?
No? Well, listen to this. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 32% of Americans maintain a budget. In that same poll, they also discovered that almost half (49%) of Americans are fearful of the state of their current financial situation. Not surprising, if you ask me. Imagine the fear my daughter would have if I let run loose in the parking lot, and suddenly she didn’t know where I was. Cars speeding by (people do speed in parking lots) and general chaos would probably have her in tears. But add in a few simple boundaries, and security and also freedom is instantly restored.
I’m not simply saying that all you need to do is maintain a budget and all your financial woes will disappear. What I am saying is that a budget will give you back some semblance of control and allow you to make progress on your goals instead of fearfully meandering through life.
A budget or boundary can be viewed as a constraint or restriction. But properly used, a budget can set you up for freedom unlike you’ve ever had before. Because instead of wildly spending money you may or may not have, you are purposefully spending on planned items and creating margin in your life to further your financial goals.
To me that sounds like a win-win. You get more control, and freedom at the same time.
Are you one of the 32% that maintains a budget? Or do you think boundaries are over-rated?
Let me know in the comments, and thanks as always for reading and sharing.