3 Reasons Why We Don't Budget
Americans are spending $1.33 for every dollar earned. You read that right.
You might be surprised and even saddened by that fact, but knowing it probably didn’t get you any closer to skipping your $5 morning latte or signing up for a budgeting class. But, Why?
Here are 3 (of many) reasons why we’re not budgeting and why we need to take a fresh look at our financial health.
We’ve gone budget deaf.
If you google search the term “budgeting tools,” there’s a 53% chance your computer, or your brain pan, will explode. However, if your head survives, you’ll have a lot of questions.
What’s the right plan for you? Do you need an entire makeover or just a few spending cuts? Where should you cut? What percentage of your income should you be spending on entertainment, food, housing? Should you even look at budgeting like that?
...And the questions just keep coming.
How’s your head?
It's hard to know what steps to take, but we must step carefully. We seem to only have the energy for so many forays into the budgeting world before we lose interest. With so many options, endless tips, and brilliant tricks, our energy seems to drain with each voice yelling at us about spending. Who has time to investigate all of these methods, and can we be certain of what they say they do?
Forget it. Turn the page, and let's grab that latte.
We know better
Truth be known, most of the tools out there are probably effective for somebody. The effectiveness of a plan or a tool does have something to do with where you are in life. Just because something doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for you.
However, even knowing this, there do seem to be some financial truths that resonate across age, income, marital status, etc. There are a couple of things that these tools have in common. They are seated in truth and NONE of them (alone) are the answer, and we know it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re attempting to bypass a venti mocha or completely overhaul your entire financial life, no tool will work for long when the wielder of the tool doesn’t like using it. Money is a heart issue first. It's a core, fabric-of-your-being issue, and something inside of us is whispering to us that our next attempt at using that budgeting tool will fail.
I read a book about change called “Switch” once where the author likened our ability to control our urges/desires/insides to a elephant rider. I’m not arguing the totality of his thoughts, but they do hold some truth here. The trick to controlling your elephant is to get the elephant to desire the same things you do. The trick to financial prosperity is not to manage your spending, punish your bad habits, or implement the perfect tool. The goal is to get your instincts, urges, and habits to desire good pursuits. We can use all the whips and commands we want to control our elephants…but we know that sooner or later, that elephant will get away from us. We know it's inevitable…the pain, the delayed gratification, something will catch up to us. So we don’t start the process. What if that feeling never did catch you though? What if your elephant wanted to go where you wanted to go?
Change is hard.
There can be many reasons, but there’s something intrinsic that comes with change that we don’t always think about...fault.
Many times when we say we’re changing, it means we are currently doing something that we shouldn’t be doing, or we’re not doing it well.
When we say we’re changing our diet, spending, time management, lifestyle, or habits, it usually means we’re also (if ever so slyly) saying that we haven’t been doing or thinking about things the way we want or should.
Because of this, we often defer change until we feel it's necessary. As it happens, when it comes to finances, it's often not that difficult to do.
Here’s a checklist of things you might ask yourself in order to subconsciously defer change in your financial life.
- Are we paying our bills?
- Are we keeping our head above water?
- Do we have some disposable income?
- Are we tithing?
- Do we have some nice stuff?
So what’s to change? We’re maintaining the status quo. We’re spending less than we’re making. We are, in essence, “budgeting." Why admit fault when there isn’t any to admit? Let sleeping dogs lie. Especially the ones that don’t need to be jostled. Poking that dog just seems unnecessary.
However, a prosperous soul isn’t afraid of dogs.
Stephen K. DeSilva reminds us that the ways we spend and invest our money can be lighthouses that reveal where our heart is. However, he also tells us that it's not the measuring stick. You can pay your bills and save for your kids’ college and still not be stewarding your finances in a prosperous manner. We must be willing to do a heart audit.
Sometimes, it takes a little fortitude to get freedom. Are we driven by convenience or purpose?
Change is hard. I think of the Israelites roaming the desert. On the outside, they were free. Inwardly, they were missing their captive, familiar, life of bondage. They missed the point of their freedom and what God had in store. God’s plan is for your financial freedom that shows on the outside, but starts on the inside. Don’t miss out!