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We all know budgeting works. If you always stick to a budget, you don’t worry about running out of money and know you’ll have enough money for vacations, hobbies and other things you love.

But Budgeting means restricting yourself. It could mean cancelling on friends because you can’t afford any more restaurant meals. Or settling for a sedan when you’d really like to drive a truck. 

That’s why so many people hate budgeting: They have to sacrifice. But you can build a sustainable financial future even if you hate budgeting. 

In this episode, you’ll find out how to make a budget (and stick to it), even if it never worked for you before. 

Want to finally make budgeting work for you? Listen now!

Show highlights include: 

  • Why budgeting gives you more joy and freedom (even if it feels like you’re restricting yourself) (4:15)
  • How keeping your budget ridiculously simple is more effective for beginners using a slew of categories, spreadsheets and apps (especially if you’re a beginner)  (6:09)
  • How often should you track your spending habits so you don’t go crazy? (16:20)
  • How to take control of your cash flow and increase your profit margins without hiring a CFO. (18:46)

Links mentioned on the show: 


Remember to download Grandma’s Top Tips for an Independent Financial Future by dropping into https://grandmaswealthwisdom.com/free/. It's time for YOU to break through to a smart, stable, financial future.

If you’d like to see how Grandma’s timeless wealth strategies can work in your life, schedule your free 15-minute coffee chat with us by visiting www.grandmaswealthwisdom.com/call… just like Grandma would want us to do.

Read Full Transcript

A hearty welcome to “Grandma’s Wealth Wisdom” with your neighborly hosts, Brandon and Amanda Neely. This is the only podcast that helps you take charge of your cash flow and leverage your assets, simply and sustainably, the way Grandma used to.

Brandon: Hi, I’m Brandon, and welcome to our Grandma's Wealth Wisdom, where we help you break through to a smart, stable financial future, with the tried and true wisdom Grandma used.

Amanda: Hey, I'm Amanda. This is Episode 92, which we've titled, “What if I hate budgeting?” Honest to goodness, I'm a total budgeting nerd. I run the budget and our family and in our business.

Brandon: Yeah.

Amanda: Brandon, however, is the one who abhors budgeting, so if you're listening to this and you're like, I can't wait to hear what Grandma would say about hating budgeting, Brandon is your person. Brandon, I want you to tell the good folks at home why you hate budgeting, and then I'm going to tell them why I do and you'll hear just how controversial this is in our family. [01:09.3]

Brandon: Some of these episodes, oh my gosh. I hate the budgeting ones. One of the reasons I don't like budgeting is, as you know, I don't like rules. Seriously, I'm an entrepreneur. I hate rules. I like to break them.

Amanda: Whereas I like budgeting because you can set your own rules and they can be like railings that keep us from going over a cliff.

Brandon: But then I'd have to restrict my life. There's always something I can't do because of the budget. I mean, that's another thing. I like things.

Amanda: Yeah, and I like to remind, Brandon, that if we did not have restrictions at all, if we lived life without any kind of restrictions, we'd probably both weigh 600 pounds.

Brandon: Yeah, I guess you're right about that, too, because I do like ice cream and I would eat it every day, and that's probably not going to be good for my weight. [02:05.2]

Amanda: Yep. Good thing Ice cream every day is not in the budget.

Brandon: The other thing that I think about is that it is kind of scary to look and see the numbers go down as I'm putting that in and I see, oh, I’ve got to pay for electric or rent or any of those. Those never go down. It gets scary.

Amanda: Whereas I remind Brandon all the time it's scary not to know your numbers at all.

Brandon: And then there’s this other thing with that scariness, which is that there's never enough. What if it goes to that zero number and I just feel like there's never enough?

Amanda: Yeah, and I like to think there's always enough for what's most important, and if there's not enough for it, it's probably not that important, or if we were really in a dire situation, there are places to go for help when we might not really have enough.

Brandon: Yeah, I guess you're right. Then the other one that I just think for me is it takes too much time. Doing a budget takes time and it takes a lot of it. [03:09.0]

Amanda: Yeah, whereas I think it takes more time to fix the thing if it goes wrong, right? If you're not managing money or something goes wrong, it's really time-consuming to fix it. You're late on a bill and to try to get out of the fees are all kinds of things. It's just hard and time-consuming.

Brandon: What about the whole thing of complication? I am a simple person and you know I get overwhelmed sometimes with a complexity of even technology. Sometimes doing a budget, I just feel it's complicated.

Amanda: Yeah, good thing you're listening to this episode because we're going to share today how it can be very simple if you let it. Budgeting does not have to be too complicated.

Brandon: And my last one that I think, again, is a challenge and lucky I have you, there's no joy in it sometimes in doing that stuff. There's just no joy. [04:06.0]

Amanda: But would you say … A little history here. We've been married 15 and a half years or so, almost 15 and a half. Would you say, Brandon, that as we've budgeted, you've gotten more and more joy as that budget has allowed us more and more freedom?

Brandon: Yeah, yeah. There's definitely a lot more joy in our lives because of the things we've accomplished or taken care of because of our budget.

Amanda: Right. There's a lot less stress, a lot less worry of will we have the money if we sleep a lot better at night? We get more freedom to spend from that mad money budget, which we probably wouldn't have in the budget had we not been budgeting for a long time now. [04:50.8]

Brandon: Yeah, so how do you reconcile the two? I mean, literally, this is the story of our marriage, really. If you haven't been able to tell on the podcast thus far, we're very different people, very, very different people, and today we're going to reveal the secrets to how Amanda got me to budget when I hated budgeting and had never done it before. My way of budgeting for food or to paying off my student loans was to eat cereal on Friday nights, so that way I'd have more money later.

Amanda: Yeah, and I came into the marriage having a notebook where I wrote down every single transaction, a pencil and paper, budgeted every single dollar, and so we came into it from those two perspectives, and we're going to share with you three big things that have helped Brandon to maybe not stop hating budgeting, but at least be like, Okay, we're going to do this. It makes sense for us to, and here's the kind of budgeting that I can do that's actually bearable for him and for me not to go crazy because he won't budget at all. Sound good, Brandon? [06:05.6]

Brandon: There you go, yep.

Amanda: Okay, so here's number one. Keep it simple to start, super simple. Brandon, tell people about the original budget that we had when we first got married.

Brandon: Yeah. Our original budget started with two categories, things we could control and things we didn't feel like we could control. Things in the out-of-our-control budget were rent, utilities, tithing, debt payments, bus fare, and gas to get back and forth to our jobs. They were set amounts or had slight variations, but felt like we couldn’t really change much. We had to get back and forth to work.

The control category was things like groceries and restaurants, entertainment, clothes, books, and so forth. We took our income, covered all the things we had to without much control, and then put the rest towards what we could control. [07:04.2]

Amanda: And Brandon at least understood this logic and went along with it, but he would still always get frustrated by the words, “Well, we can't afford it.”

Brandon: I hated those words.

Amanda: And I said them way too many times, especially starter marriage, very little income we couldn't afford a lot of stuff. Plus, we weren't saving very much, if anything. I mean, Christmas would roll around and the presents and travel to visit family and all the things related to Christmas would come from the within-our-control budget for that month. It wasn't very much and that was always super frustrating to both of us.

Brandon: Another thing that was frustrating was that our debt didn't move very much, but at least we weren't going into debt further. That at least was a good thing, but, man, I was feeling like we were doing a lot, but we weren't seeing much progress. [07:57.5]

Amanda: Yeah, so at least we started budgeting. We kept it very simple. We realized what wasn't perfect, and then, over time, we've added categories. We've moved to spreadsheets and then to a software. We've been more intentional about how we pay off debt, how we save, what we save for, all the things that come along with budgeting. But this is very, very important.

We were very simple to start with literally two categories, and then we made tiny, teeny, tiny, incremental shifts over time as we saw, “Actually, we need some more money for Christmas. We better budget for this each month,” “Actually, we want to be smarter about paying off our debt. We're going to do X, Y, and Z,” and those happened over years as we would be like, Yeah, we don't like this about how we're doing it now. What do we do next? That's number one, keep it simple to start.

Number two is to have larger overarching goals, values, guidelines, some kind of bigger picture, whatever you want to call it. Be aligned with that if you're budgeting with someone else or within yourself, if you're budgeting just for yourself. Know those big priorities and have them guide all the small details. However much of the small details you actually get into, make sure the big priorities are guiding your budgeting. [09:21.2]

Brandon: Yeah, when we first got married, we had three goals, and if you've listened to any of our episodes previously, you might know those goals, but those goals were not get fat, not get pregnant, and pay down debt. The simple budget kind of helped. Since we paid all our bills and so forth, we didn't have a lot to spend on food, which helped us fulfill number one, don't get fat, right? That's still a goal of ours. [09:56.2]

The second as we first got married was we didn't want to have a child. We didn't want to get pregnant. The second one didn't impact the budget, except that we didn't need to set aside funds for family purposes, at least in that way yet.

The third almost got forgotten. Unfortunately, we thought we rounded up slightly on all our debts that would go down quickly. We thought that rounding up to 50 that maybe that would make a big change and that didn't happen.

Amanda: Yeah, so over time, some of these overarching priorities have shifted as we’ve paid off debt, right? That wasn't a thing. We've started a family, so our priorities shifted there. We might still not want to get fat. That's important to us. We want to be healthy.

Brandon: Which we do, still not get fat. There's not a [unclear 10:50.0].

Amanda: But I think that's shifted to more to live a healthy, active lifestyle, not just about our weight or whatever. If you want to hear more about setting a financial vision, check out our last episode where we talk about the financial vision part of it. [11:07.7]

But the important thing we want to say today is that once you have that financial vision, once you have that set of goals or priorities, a bigger picture around your money, we’ve found it super helpful to let those, that bigger picture, those goals, those priorities guide and define our budgeting rather than vice versa.

Grandma always said, “Eat your vegetables. Look both ways before crossing the road, and never risk your financial future on elements of the market you can’t control.” That Grandma, always good for some tried-and-true advice, and although some of her wisdom seems to have skipped a generation, you don't have to be left behind.

Download “Grandma's Top Tips for an Independent Financial Future” absolutely free, when you visit Grandma’sWealthWisdom.com. Don't wait. Get Grandma's best tips today.

Brandon: Here's an example. Several years ago, we knew we wanted to buy a home at least one day, so we started shifting a little bit of money into a savings account to try and build up the down payment, right? That's all we changed. Everything else in the budget stayed the same, but we started shifting a little bit towards that down payment. [12:25.6]

Amanda: And that was a lot easier because we knew that was a priority and a goal that we had. Now our priorities have changed. We ended up using those funds to help start our first business, but we've kept that savings habit since. We talked about earlier, Christmas time is a priority for us, so saving each month for the Christmas budget instead of depending on December's income to cover everything, that's important to us, or now that we have a home, we want to set aside longer term funds for home repairs.

So, it's not just about saving first and how that's a cornerstone of our budget. It's also about making sure when there's a major home repair, we don't have to go into debt to pay for it. We have liquid cash available to do it ourselves from our own savings. [13:11.6]

Brandon: Now, we do want to have a special note here. We're not just saving all of our savings in a traditional savings account at our credit union. I mean, we have some there, right? If you haven't heard of the amazing tool that we use to get our funds growing, but maintaining liquidity, but you haven't listened to very many of the episodes, but really it's all over. Then you also want to listen to some of the other episodes or reach out to us and ask us, What are you doing with your savings and how are you making it bigger?

Amanda: Yeah, and one final tip here about the bigger picture and priorities is super important. It's because when Brandon and I agree on our bigger picture, then he doesn't have to get bogged down in the smaller details. I can geek out there and he trusts that I'm going to follow the goals and the guidelines that we've established together, and we can just have check-ins periodically on how are we doing at reaching those priorities and seeing those goals come into reality. [14:15.0]

Brandon: If you hate budgeting like I do, but don't have an Amanda to do the small details for you, the cool option you have is to have your big picture set and not worry about all the details. You could say something like, If I’ve saved for these items first, paid all the obligations, all the other expenses could go into the same bucket. What benefit is there to dividing up every little transaction, right? Remember number one, just keep it simple to start.

Amanda: There we go. Our third and final tip to share is I think one of the most important. If you're keeping it simple to start, you're allowing that bigger picture to guide the way you budget. Then all you have to do is track your in and out regularly. [15:05.5]

Now, don't get overwhelmed here. Again, you're going to keep it really simple. This is going to be actually really quick and easy to do. You'll know you've done a good job at keeping it simple if this is quick and easy to do. But there is actually how regularly as a source of great debate. Actually just yesterday I was talking to someone who she budgets every few days and her brother is budgeting once a month, and she's always telling him, “You need a budget more frequently,” and he's like, No, that's too frequent, so a huge debate here.

What we have found to work for us when we first started being serious about budgeting is doing it weekly. That would help us get more aware, be more intentional about it. Then we switched to every other week.
Then we moved to monthly. Right before we were going to buy a house, we went back to weekly, right? When we were moving states, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of cash, and we were watching what we were doing because it's really easy to eat out a lot when you're about to move or right after you moved and all those things. But now we're back to monthly now that we've settled in a little bit more. [16:09.0]

What I'm saying here is that it kind of depends on your goals and your priorities in terms of how regularly you track your in and out. I think, Brandon, you've got some examples for the folks at home.

Brandon: Yeah, some people might want to track more regularly, even daily, to help curb a bad spending habit. That's just going to help you not spend as much if you're tracking it more. Others might have a pretty good discipline with spending already, so they might track monthly to start giving themselves more freedom with any extra from the last month to use more as fun money this month. We could go on and on on the how and which way you want to go, but we do want to say one very important thing. [16:56.6]

Amanda: Yeah, so we've been talking about hating budgeting and using all personal examples so far, but all these things could be applied to business budgets, too. Now, a lot of business owners don't set budgets, right? Budgeting in a business, that’s just weird because income can be very variable. Expenses can be variable. But they do or maybe they should track the in and outs, right?

Even if they're not future-forecasting, which we agree, that's probably a bad idea, but tracking your in and out is a little different. Especially if your income is very variable or your expenses are very variable, maybe it's more important to track then if everything is nice and steady. If we're talking to the business owner, we would say the same things, actually keep it simple to start, know your bigger picture, and track your in and out regularly. That's easier said than done, though, right, Brandon? [17:54.3]

Brandon: Yeah, exactly. Now, your bookkeeper and your accountant might give you some tools like that P&L statement to use for tracking purposes. From our experience, not enough business owners know how to look at a P&L statement, though, and make decisions about what to improve. They don't do that. They don't know how to anticipate what could be on next month or next quarter. If they do know, they aren't spending enough time really reviewing their in and out and moving their business finances towards their overarching goals. They're just kind of fly by night.

Amanda: Yeah, so in noticing this, we decided we wanted to make it our mission to change the situation for small- and medium-sized businesses. If you're hitting the six-figure mark, or maybe even seven figures, but feeling lost or bogged down when it comes to reviewing your income and expenses, tracking that in and out, so that you can take more control of your cash flow and increase your personal profits, then we want to invite you to join us for CFO Hours. [19:05.7]

Now CFO Hours is not for CFOs. It's for business owners, CEOs, who don't yet have a CFO in their business, so guess what, they're performing the CFO role in their business. You are. In case you missed the last episode about defining your financial vision, we've developed a methodology called the STILL method that's meant to help you, the CEO or the business owner, take control of your cash flow and increase your personal profits.
The “S” in the still method stands for “set your sights”, as in define your financial vision, your bigger picture. Then the “T” stands for “track your in and out”, as in budget.

To learn more about what the “I”, the “L” and the “L” stand for, and to get your invitation to do this STILL method in community with other business owners where you can ask questions, do some co-shared learning, shared accountability, all those kinds of things. We want you to visit CFOHours.com. That's where you can find out more. Again, that's CFOHours.com. [20:11.0]

Brandon: Now, I would add there's a lot of people like me in business. Trust me, I talk to a lot of business owners, and what I’ve learned is there's not a lot of people like Amanda out there who are entrepreneurs and business owners. I don't know what they're doing. I mean, I love the bigger picture, but I could spend, spend, spend, and chase that ROI.

Amanda, however, is more restrained and lets the numbers guide the decisions, which is I think good, sometimes the point of not making any progress and that's not so good, but that's why it's good to have both of us there and we're lucky to have a balanced, but most people like me don't have that balance. [21:00.8]

If you relate to chasing the ROI and not having restraints with your numbers, so that you can make smarter progress, I encourage you to spend some time with Amanda during CFO Hours. Again, that website is CFOHours.com and you will thank your future self.

Amanda: Yeah, and I would say, if you love your numbers, but you're having a hard time making progress with them and moving them into action, still come to CFO hours and check out CFOHours.com because Brandon will be there, too, and will be able to push you a little bit if that's what you really need.

But to wrap up for today, some of you might be wondering, could budgeting really be that simple? Two categories to start, focusing on the big bear picture, letting all the little things fall in line, and tracking the in and out regularly. I can hear you saying, No way, budgeting has to be more complicated and take a lot of time and feel overly restricting, all those things Brandon was saying at the beginning. [22:04.8]

Brandon: Now, we know this goes against what you might think we'd say on Grandma's Wealth Wisdom, but remember Grandma is patient. She doesn't give you more than you can handle, but she does ask you to be responsible. Our biggest encouragement to you today is to stay patient with yourself. Be the best you can and know that budgeting, tracking your in and out, takes practice.

If you were good at it the first time, it wouldn't be a practice, and then practice to make permanent, and then to make progress, not perfection. No one is perfect and don't let perfectionism stop you from practice and progress in your business, and that's, again, why we're calling this a practice.

Amanda: Yep, or a method, the STILL method. Yeah, and whether it's in your business or in your personal life, we hope reframing budgeting as tracking your in and outs and telling it what to do is helpful to you. [23:10.0]

Now, in the next episode, we're going to be taking the next step from here. Remember, last time we talked about defining your financial vision, so your bigger picture. Today we talked about budgeting, tracking your in and out.

The next question, once you kind of get those a little bit into practice, is how do you're making progress? We hear all the time from people, “How do I know if I'm doing it right?” In particular, in the next episode, we're going to ask the question, is net worth a good measure? Be sure to join us. Hit that subscribe button. Look forward to that discussion.

Brandon: Until next time, keep building your wealth simply and sustainably, so you can break through to a smart, stable financial future, both in your personal life and in your business. [23:59.7]

The topics presented in this podcast are for general information only and not for the purposes of providing legal, accounting or investment advice. On such matters, please consult a professional who knows your specific situation.

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