By in Automatic Saving, Budget, Saving | 7 comments

Budgets – Love ’em or hate ’em?

Guest contributor, Martin from Studenomics

We all have secrets that we don’t want to get out. In my financial life, there are some expenses that I just can’t share with the blogging world. However, today I finally have to come clean about something.

I have a public financial confession to make.

What’s Martin’s Financial Confession?

Here it is in his own words.

I hate budgeting with a passion.

should i budget or not?

To Budget or Not to Budget

“I think it sucks and it’s no way to live life. I hate how so many personal finance bloggers praise them and stress the importance of tracking every single penny. What if I’m tired and chug a coffee without budgeting for it? Am I screwed?”

(Barbara’s comment; No you’re not screwed, and I don’t believe everyone needs a budget either!)

Why does a Personal Finance Blogger Hate Budgeting?

I haven’t always hated budgets. I mean, I’ve probably gone a few weeks at some point with a strict budget when I was in college.

What’s my problem?

I just hate tracking things and feeling restricted. I know it’s not a rational fear by any means. I just don’t want to be limited. Maybe this is why I don’t want a “real job.”

I want to save money, but I don’t want to have restrictions on what I do. I love freedom and I love to enjoy my money.

With that being said…

Is Budgeting all that Bad?

Not at all. Every single trick works when you’re just getting started. You need everything and anything to help you get out of out debt.

For example, for the longest time I was the biggest fan of saving your change from the day. I would put all of my change into a coin jar every single day. I would then count this money and get excited over how much change I accumulated. I eventually stopped caring because I realized that I should have less money available to me. Now I use my credit card for shopping and it allows me to easily track my spending because it’s all there in a spreadsheet.

If you’re new to personal finance, then you might need a budget just to figure out where you stand and what requires immediate improvement. You might want to budget and take inventory of your spending for the first little while. Then as you improve, you can stop stressing about every cup of coffee.

I just don’t want anyone reading this to be that friend that’s always cheap. You know, the friend who pays a smaller portion of the bill or runs to the washroom when it’s their turn to buy a round. (Barb’s comment; I’m not crazy about the “cheap” friend either)

So, How do you Save Money?

Since I blog about personal finance, I’m clearly a huge fan of the idea of saving money and trying to get ahead. I’ve always been a greedy kid. I’ve also always avoided debt because I never understood the idea of spending money that you don’t have.

My financial system is pretty simple:

  • I get paid.
  • I pay my bills/expenses.
  • I put money away into my savings account , FIRST.
  • I leave money in my checking account for whatever (food, gas, food, more food, and going out).
  • I try to limit how much I spend. I only buy things that I need. Yes, I need a few cups of coffee per day.
  • I set priorities.
  • I invest my money where I see fit.
  • I try to increase my income constantly. This could be freelancing or even selling random crap.

That’s my process. I’m not saying that it will work for you, but it works for me.

Priorities Drive Spending

Most important of all are priorities. You can have anything that you want, but not everything. I’ve been wanting a iPad for 1.5 years, but I just can’t justify that purchase to myself yet. (Barbara’s comment-Buying an iPad wouldn’t impact my financial picture one way or another, but it’s a luxury I don’t want to splurge on right now. I have more important uses for that $700 or so.  Delaying gratification is a cornerstone of financial success.)

Another key point,  focus on  increasing your income. Frugality can be creative at times. After a while it gets boring. Making more money never gets boring because there’s always another way to make money. Don’t believe me? I have proof that you can teach anything for dollars.

I totally get why and how budgeting works. It just isn’t for me. If it’s working for you, then that’s awesome. Whatever helps you save money and get ahead, is the best move. Just don’t feel like you have to write down every purchase.

(Barbara’s comment; As long as you transfer money from your paycheck into your savings and investing (could be a retirement account) and don’t take on consumer debt, you’re golden. Your money is yours to allocate as you see fit.)

Martin of Studenomics, helps you reach financial freedom by 30. Life’s too short to be in debt! Check out his recent article on investing $1,000 for fast results.

Are you also anti-budgeting? I would love to hear from you…


  1. Martin, I think your ‘affliction’ is very common. The free Guide to Creating a Family Budget I offer has been downloaded a whopping total of 10 times, while Understanding Your Credit Score has been downloaded nearly 300 times. That says it all!

    Kurt @ Money Counselor

    October 21, 2013

  2. When I first graduated college, a budget was great to keep me out of trouble and understand where the money was going. Years later, I was married, and we funded our retirement accounts, college fund, and a bit extra to the 7.5% mortgage. For the fact that our savings account kept growing, we felt that a formal budget wasn’t needed.
    I consider what we did to be “top down” as we had accounted for a large portion of our income from these expenses, and didn’t feel compelled to track the rest.
    Now, as we approach retirement, it became important to know exactly what we spend on each line item. We found that some things were higher than we’d have expected, and some right on target. A layoff hit both of us, and being a bit too young to start the retirement 4% rule, I decided I’d do something completely different than the job I just left. My wife is deciding what she’d like to do. The budget exercise made us comfortable with this change in our lives.


    October 21, 2013

  3. Hey Kurt. Thanks for sharing that. Why do you think it is? I imagine many of us just don’t want to feel restricted.


    October 21, 2013

  4. My budget is just a guide to help establish my financial goals. I set up a payroll deduction for my retirement savings and live on what is left. I do go further by reviewing my expenses every month too.


    October 21, 2013

  5. @Joe, What a superb picture of how personal the budgeting decision is. And for all there are periods when we need to be more detailed with our income and expenses and other times when a more gradual approach is just fine. Best of luck in this new phase in your lives.
    @Kratnc-Back in the day, Jane Bryant Quinn suggested “your method” as a super easy way to save for retirement, not overspend, and get by just fine without a budget.

    Barbara Friedberg

    October 22, 2013

  6. Barb, Thanks for the honest reveal. Don’t tell anyone but I do the same thing. Budgets are no fun and a pain. But we still recommend them because many people need their structure for financial success.

    Any other secrets you can tell us?


    October 25, 2013

  7. Hi Dave,
    Actually, lots of folks do just fine financially without a budget, the key is to automate the saving and investing first. Then your future is taken care of!!

    Stick around for more secrets.

    Barbara Friedberg

    October 26, 2013


  1. Basic Savings Strategies | Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance - […] move forward without assessing your current situation. While I do not think it’s necessary to create a budget, you…

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