This is the first part of our five part series following MindShift.money member Wendy Priester as she goes through Financially Fit Bootcamp.
The word “budget” tends to make people break out in hives. I should know, I’m one of them.
For me, a budget meant something that was incredibly restrictive. I grew up using a cash- based money management system that relied on envelopes to separate your cash. Which meant you had to have a separate envelope for each item or category you wanted to spend money on.
I felt like I was constantly micromanaging over 20 different categories. It was exhausting, not to mention confusing, and meant extra trips to the bank to get the right denominations of cash for each envelope.
Now, I’m sure the envelope system works for some people, but not for me.
I always felt guilty spending any kind of money, even if it was an area I had planned to spend on. I felt a constant sense of anxiety whenever I went shopping. I worried that I would run out of money in each envelope. If I did, I felt so ashamed I hadn’t managed things properly.
I lived in constant fear and shame around my money. I began to resent my budget; it only made me feel terrible about myself and reminded me how I had failed. It seemed so easy for everyone else!
So, I gave up.
I stopped trying to follow a budget. It never worked anyway, as I usually went over in one or more areas. Anytime I tried to stick to it and couldn’t, I took it as proof that I was hopeless.
What I was doing wasn’t working, but I didn’t know how else to fix it.
Also, I have a Master’s degree in Accounting. I told myself I was a failure because I, more than anyone, should already have money figured out.
Budgets Don’t Work
My life changed when I was introduced to Dr. Tony and MindShift.money.
I remember thinking, “Wait a moment. There’s a different way to do this? There’s a way to make my money work for me while I also enjoy my life now?
When I worked through Module One of Financially Fit Bootcamp, I found myself agreeing with Dr. Tony when he explained budgets don’t work.
They don’t. At all.
But when I opened the Money Planner to put in my numbers, I had a moment of panic.
It looked like a budget! I thought we weren’t doing budgets!
But, as I started to work through it, I realized it wasn’t a budget at all.
It was simply a guide, or a map if you will, showing me how money flowed through my bank account.
In the accounting world, we use a report called a Balance Sheet to monitor how a business is doing. It gives the owner and their accounting team a snapshot in time of how funds are moving through the business.
I began to think about my Money Planner in the same way, and that’s when my MindShift took place.
While the Money Planner was my own personal Balance Sheet for now that didn’t mean the numbers had to stay that way forever.
Unlike a budget, the Money Planner is not meant to be static or something that stays the same. It’s meant to be dynamic, something that can change over time.
That was very exciting. This wasn’t going to be a punishment at all. More like a benchmark I could improve upon.
In fact, it gave me the motivation to move on to the next task of finding a surplus.
Searching for a Cash Surplus
When I started my Money Planner, I thought a Cash Surplus was out of reach.
I thought there was no way, on my income, I would be able to find any extra funds.
Happily, I found out I was wrong. In working through the process, I found I had more money than I realized.
My biggest problem was that by not paying attention to where my money was going, I was left wondering where it went. Looking at my spending habits on paper I realized there were many areas I was overspending in simply because I wasn’t thinking about it.
When I started to plan out where my money was going, I actually found my Cash Surplus!
I remember looking at the number in disbelief. All along, that money was there. I was just too distracted to see it.
Moving from Fear to Action
After working through the Money Planner and finding my surplus, I felt so empowered to take charge of my money.
I wasn’t a failure after all. I could do this!
My spending plan on my Money Planner gave me a real sense of accomplishment. That was something I never had before when it came to my finances.
Where I had grown up with a mindset of scarcity when it came to money, I now had one of abundance.
I could see that my money was going to savings, paying for my bills, and I still had enough to have fun. More than that, I actually had money left over!
Rather than feeling restricted, I felt free.
I want you to be able to feel that same sense of freedom too.
As you work through the Money Planner in Module One, I want you to pay attention to the emotions around money that come up for you.
Do you also struggle with feelings of guilt and shame regarding money? Do you have stories you tell yourself about why you’ll never succeed with your finances?
That’s ok. Realize that this is where you’re starting from, but it’s not where you have to stay.
I’d love to hear what insights you had while working through Module One. Join us over on the Financial Foundations Community Facebook page or at MindShift.money to share your story of finding your Cash Surplus and starting your journey to Financial Freedom.
image credit: Bigstock/Flynt
Wendy Priester is a former Tax Auditor turned freelance writer and certified Financially Fit Bootcamp Coach. When not working with clients to help them live their best financial life, Wendy can be found exploring the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with her two hyperactive dachshunds.