When Your Budget Grinds You Down



What happens when your budget sucks and you hate it?  Is staying within budget leaving you worn out and resentful?

Read on to find out what to do instead.

I was a slave to my budget

I had a lot of experience in that area.  For years, I operated within a bare-bones budget.  Partly it was out of necessity – I wasn’t earning a lot, I still had student debt, I lived in an expensive city, I was saving for a downpayment.  All the usual suspects.

I dutifully categorized every expense as a “need” or a “want”.  Rent? I “need that”.  Food? Also, a “need”.  Books and entertainment? Definitely a “want”.  So I was told to cut that “want” ruthlessly.

Sound familiar?

The problem was, after a couple of years, it really ground me down.  It was hugely de-motivating.  I resented my budget and I would rebel like a teenager by blowing it on an impulse buy.

Then I would fall into the cycle of guilt, climb back on the wagon, scrounge so I got back even, only to fall off a couple of months later.

My budget told me all the things I couldn’t do.  I couldn’t buy this.  I couldn’t eat out.  I couldn’t do an activity. My budget was so austere that it left no room for me.

Negative Cycles

I felt I had no agency in my budget. Because I was in this feast or famine cycle with my spending, I was always experiencing some sort of negative emotion.

I would feel the resentment.  Then guilt even while I was at the cash register with my purchase. But I’d just go ahead and swipe my credit card because I was feeling defiant.  Then, buyers remorse and guilt again.

I’d go through this cycle many times during a year.

So as you can imagine, I experienced a lot of negativity and stress in my emotional life stemming from my budget alone.

My A-ha Moment

One simple perspective change and an extra line in my budget completely turned this downward cycle around.

First, I re-categorized my entire budget based on a value system.  A 5 for very valuable, 0 or 1 for very little value.  So rent and groceries are rated 5.  I need them to survive so they are very important.  My discount gym membership was rated a 0 because I’d be so intimidated when I got there that I never went back.

I added a line to my budget that was a blanket category of “personal development” because that was very enjoyable for me.  Every paycheck, I automatically transfer a set dollar amount to this account. I use a zero-based budgeting system that you can read about HERE.

I use this account in various ways.  I allowed myself to buy books with this money. Yes, I could borrow it from the library, but sometimes you just don’t want to be #731 out of 850 waiting for a book. Know what I mean?

Unexpected Benefits

I used that account to pay for tickets to events.  Most recently, I have purchased tickets to an event called Babes Who Brunch organized by The Ace Class.

The event was very uplifting, to have honest conversations and interactions with other women who are also navigating this world.  Society tells all of us who we should be and how we should act, but it was liberating to drop those expectations, even if only for a couple of hours.

Because The Ace Class’ mission resonated with me, I decided to collaborate with them to empower women through mastering their relationship money.  In this first article,  I describe a bit more on how I view the value-added perspective on budgeting.

Read my article in their editorial here.

5 Ways to Master Your Money

Check out if they are in your city; I encourage you to go to an event with an open mind and open heart.  I think you’ll get a lot of value out of the experience.


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3 thoughts on “When Your Budget Grinds You Down”

  1. I love your idea of having a Personal Development account. That is an awesome money/life/values hack. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Keep empowering women to master their money! It’s so very needed.

  2. Pingback: The Weekly Jukebox – Saturday, February 2, 2019 – Wise Commerce

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