Last week, I did a post in response to a reader question about personal finance basics. The most basic concept in personal finances, I asserted, is to make more money than you spend.
When you first start out with this idea, it can help to have a budget to keep you on track. Indeed, a budget is a great tool to help put your feet on the road to financial freedom. (After you get a handle on the budget, you can move to a net worth mentality, if that works for you.)
At any rate, there are some very real budgeting myths that plague many people. I see them mainly as excuses. Investopedia has a great article debunking these 10 budget myths:
- I don’t need a budget. This is laughable. Everyone needs some sort of plan. At least initially. Besides, a budget can help you put your spending and saving habits into perspective.
- I’m not good at math, so money management isn’t my thing. There are plenty of personal finance software programs out there that can help you.
- My job is secure. No it isn’t. Especially not in this economy.
- Unemployment benefits will save me. Not necessarily. Not everyone qualifies, and they rarely help replace your entire salary.
- It won’t happen to me. Um, it could happen to anyone. Budget in savings for an emergency fund.
- I don’t want to deprive myself. I have a hard time with this one. This idea that we have to have everything now is why we are in an economic mess with the credit market and the mortgage market. If you make a plan to budget and save, you can get what you want — but you may not get it now.
- There’s no reason to save, since I don’t want anything big. If nothing else, you should save for retirement. That’s a pretty big thing.
- Budgeting and savings means I don’t get the student aid needed. You can get around income requirements for need-based help by setting aside the money in retirement accounts or pre-paying on your house. Neither of these things are considered.
- I don’t need a budget because I don’t have debt. Unchecked spending can put you in debt quickly.
- I don’t need a budget due to bonuses and tax refunds. You never know when this will fall through. It’s much better to do things that you can do than to rely wholly on others to shore you up.