How a Budget Can Be Liberating Rather Than Confining

How a Budget Can Be Liberating Rather Than Confining

At FamilyMeans, we practice what we preach when it comes to financial education. Our staff are able to communicate financial pitfalls and tips people should look out for in their everyday lives to help them balance their budget, because they follow the same advice. One of our staff members, Eli Snyder, discusses today an idea that budgets can actually be enjoyable and helpful rather than restrictive and frightening ...

A a Consumer Credit Counseler, the majority of the people I meet with each day seem to view the term “budget” with negative connotations.  Many view going on a budget as a severely restrictive act which ultimately means the end to their financial freedom. As you can imagine, if this is how one initially views a budget, there is a lot of fear and trepidation that arises when I suggest to them it is time to cut up the plastic credit cards and engage their budgets head-on. To overcome this commonly held fear of budgets, it is important to gain proper perspective by being brave enough to take a strong dose of financial reality.

The cold hard truth is that debt, not a budget, is the enslaving force that is to be feared. According to some of the most recent Federal Reserve statistics American credit debt carrying households average $15,191 in credit card balances, mortgage debt averaging $154,365, and $33,607 in average student loan debt! That’s over $200,000 worth of debt that is truly weighing the average American household down day in and day out. Carrying an exorbitant amount of debt tends to cause many folks to remain in dead end jobs that simply “pay the bills” but don’t ultimately satisfy. Similarly student loan debt often forces new graduates to pursue completely separate career paths for years instead of allowing them to pursue what they were in fact passionate about from the beginning. And dare I bring up the many who fall prey to large mortgage debt only to find their dream house can quickly become a stressful millstone around their neck of their financial lives? Somebody please tell me what sounds so liberating or freeing about that!

Instead I propose a “budget” (or “spending-plan” if you still for some reason detest the sound of that previous label) is the true liberating vehicle to ride. A budget, while inherently imposing some financial restrictions and limits, allows you to truly spend only what you’ve previously decided is appropriate without jeopardizing your other financial goals. Very much like a sail boat, it allows you to harness the wind-power of your income to take you where you actually want to go rather than having to go a direction that you’d rather not because you chose to spend tomorrow’s money ahead of time. Carrying as little debt as possible allows you to remain agile in a life of many financial twists and turns.

There’s something freeing about being able to tell your money what to do, rather than the other way around. Despite our culture’s lack of alarm to large debt accumulation, just remember the age old words of the ancient Hebrew adage that clearly points out that “the borrower is in fact slave to the lender.”

Want to get over your fear of "budget" and get out of debt? Contact FamilyMeans' Debt Management Program team to learn how we can help you develop a plan to get out of debt.