We’ve all had that moment after a night out when we get the bill and it’s over $100. Little sirens starting going off in our minds and you realize it’s time to start budgeting. When you think about budgeting there are a lot of feelings and emotions that come up with it. The five stages of budgeting can be broken down by the five stages of grief. If you can be prepared for your emotional responses to budgeting, then you’ll be able to get to the place that you want to be with your finances. Below are some helpful ways to survive each stage of budgeting!
Denial (I Don’t Need A Budget)
The initial shock will soon fade and then you’re left to realize YES this is happening for real. Many people like to play a little mind game with themselves called, “What can I spend my money on today.” Once you start getting an income automatically you’re going to want to celebrate all the money you’re now making. The question is though, where is all this spending really getting you? If you can take a second and realize that by putting a percentage of your income away every week, you’ll be so much happier in the outcome.
Anger (Budgets Are Stupid)
Once you get past denial, you get mad at your money. Maybe it’s because you don’t have enough of it to do everything you want. Maybe it’s because someone else has more than you do, and you want to spend like them. You think that a budget is going to make your life worse on a daily basis. Common questions you’ll start asking yourself are, “Why is my spending anyone else’s business?” and, “Will budgeting actually work or will it be a waste of time?”
The truth is, once you starting making a plan you’ll start following it. In order to get to where you want to be with your finances, you need to make little steps to get there. Budgeting can be overwhelming, but as long as you work day by day then you’ll definitely be on the right track.
Bargaining (Well If It’s On Sale I Can Get It)
This is where the rationalizing begins. Just because you save a certain amount on coffee today, doesn’t mean you can go out over the weekend. Or maybe you think “I’ve been so good this week, I deserve a splurge”. Whether you look at spending as a treat or a reward, it’s likely the plusses and minuses aren’t getting you ahead in your financial goals. If only you hadn’t spent all that money on that one weekend out, you would’ve been one step closer to your dream vacation.
Regardless of the mind games you play with yourself, your reality is what it is. The beauty about money is that the dollar amounts don’t lie. Let’s face it, you can’t bargain your way through your student loans.
Depression (I Give Up)
This is the hardest stage. You’re starting to realize becoming financially fit and sound will require some sacrifice and prioritization and it all seems too much. It may seem like you may never stop putting money away and soon you won’t be able to spend money on anything. This isn’t true. No one has a secret to budgeting, the truth is it requires hard work and with time you’ll eventually get to where you want to be. You may feel isolated if you can’t go out with your friends, but once you realize you’re prioritizing your needs and responsibilities you’ll see how worth it, it is.
Acceptance (Budgeting Is The Way To Go)
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the hardest stages and you’re finally at the last one. You are entering a critical time in your life and the choices you make now will shape the years ahead. Instead of being confining, your budget is actually your ticket to freedom and peace. It will help you figure out how much you need to save to make a big change like switching careers, paying off your loans, or moving across the country. It will help you plan for making memories today that will be with you forever. The best part, it will help you minimize worrying about the future. The best relationship you want to build is one with money and saving.
I totally get that spending is emotional. You may go through all of these stages in order, feel them all at once, or go back and forth over time. There’s no right way to handle the feelings that come along with budgeting. As long as you keep making steps forward then you’ll be sure to see a difference.