My life is thrilling. I give financial literacy presentations. Seriously. And it is fun. However, there is one thing I have a really hard time putting a “fun” spin on. Budgeting. No matter what, it is a tedious, sometimes emotional process. And the bottom line is, you just have to make yourself sit down and do it. So, how do I bribe myself to do things I don’t want to? Usually chocolate is involved. How do you like to be rewarded?

It really all boils down to wants vs. needs. And no one wants to talk about that. Because we want what we want and we want it now (insert “I Want the World” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the original). And in our life, we can make that happen. But at what cost? How much have you paid in interest? Isn’t that money you could have used elsewhere? I’m not going to get all Dave Ramsey on you, but we have to examine our spending, our spending habits and the reality of it all. Quit lying to yourself. It is going to take you a really long time to pay off that credit card. As soon as you can swallow that pill, then you can move forward and start to slowly chip away at it. Which is superbly frustrating to those of us who want the world now.

“How do I do it, Katie?” you ask. Well, we all love a couple of steps to make it all super simple. Here’s my budgeting advice, compiled from millions of articles I’ve read.

  1. Get it in pen. Write it down. Create a spreadsheet. Find a Pinterest budget that thrills you. Just do it. Schedule a monthly time that you sit down with your significant other and create a budget (remember those pesky divorce stats: Money issues are usually a part of those messy things). Maybe you have a glass of wine while you budget. Whatever makes the process a little less painful, do it.
  2. Do your best to stick with it, but accept that it will fluctuate slightly. This week, I had to get new brakes. All four tires. Ouch. That was NOT in my budget. But, I’ll have to sacrifice four nights out to eat. Bummer.
  3. We all have different ways we like to spend our money. That doesn’t make it wrong, it makes it different. Don’t criticize each other for what we enjoy. But, if you are going through some financial turmoil, dissect your spending. Put a “W” for “want” and an “N” for “need.” Prioritize those wants and cut a few of them. Perhaps, cut all the wants.  (See Step 4.)
  4. Realize it is only temporary. I cut cable. And I quit dying my hair (I LOVE being blonde. We all make sacrifices.). But when my credit card debt is gone, if I want to dye my hair, I will. And if I want cable, I’ll purchase it. Sometimes those things we hold on to so hard aren’t as painful to let go of as we thought.
  5. Ditch the “I can’t” mentality. Of course you can. And it is a decision only you can make. So make it. And do it for the bigger picture. Maybe you want to buy a house in the future. Maybe you just don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck.
  6. Make goals. Make two long-term, two mid-term and two short-term goals. Financial goals.

Let me share mine:

Short-Term Goals

  • No more bottled waters
  • No more fancy coffees (for now)

Mid-Term Goals

  • Pay off Credit Cards
  • Pay off Student Loan

Long-Term Goals

  • Vacation in Italy
  • Save $20,000

Make steps to attain those goals and celebrate your victories (Without blowing the bank. Come on people.).

Good luck! I know you can do it. And for those of you this totally overwhelmed, there are so many free/or inexpensive resources available. For True Sky Credit Union Members, you simply call Accel Members Financial Counseling (877-332-2235; https://www.accelservices.org/) and tell them you’re a member of True Sky Credit Union. For Oklahomies, contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service (405-789-2227; http://cccsok.org/). It is time to stop being overwhelmed and start taking care of yourself! I’m proud of you.

Other interesting articles: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/08/new-house-cost_n_5941578.html?utm_hp_ref

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2013/09/26/5-budget-busters-draining-your-wallet

And for all different types of Financial Education, I LOVE: http://www.nerdwallet.com/