The truth about budgets brings financial freedom

Budgets are a single mom’s best financial friend – hands down.

Kids are expensive, and it’s even harder to make ends meet when you’re working with one income. That’s where budgets come in to save the day.

Unfortunately, just the word “budget” can turn people off. And the idea of having to deal with a budget can make an already overwhelmed single mom shut down.

That’s because many people have the wrong idea about budgets, and think they’re are all about cutting expenses… sacrificing fun… and getting bogged down with time-consuming spreadsheets.

The truth? That’s the opposite of what budgeting can bring to your life.

The real deal on budgets is that they give you control of your finances so you can use your money however you want – and create personal wealth along the way.

But to get there, you have to bust through these budgeting myths and knock down the false obstacles that stand in the way of your financial security.

It costs $233,610 to raise one child to age 17… not including college costs!

Busting 5 False Obstacles to Better Money Management

If you cringe when you think about making a budget, you may be buying into one or more of these budgeting myths. Busting through these false obstacles can set you on the path to financial freedom and security.

Myth #1: Budgets cause too much stress.

The Truth: Running out of money every month before you can pay all of your bills… being stuck with expensive debt… and having little or no savings to fall back on… Those situations cause anxiety. Not knowing how much money you’re spending or how much money you have to work with – that’s stressful.

Bottom line: Creating and sticking to a budget helps reduce your financial stress.

Myth: Budgets mean cutting back on everything good and fun.

The Truth: You won’t notice cutbacks when you create a budget that’s right for you. Sure, you might end up lowering some expenses, but those will be by choice. The right budget carves out room for the things you love by getting rid of expenses that don’t serve you or increasing income to support your passions. Because cutting back is not the only way to reach your financial goals.

Bottom line: Budgeting doesn’t mean restricting spending… It means spending money on the things you want rather than the things you don’t (like credit card interest).

Myth: Budgets have to be detailed.

The Truth: That’s 100% completely up to you.

If you’re a detail-oriented person, you can dive in deep to look at every separate line item. You can create as many income and expense categories as you want to create a clear picture of how your money moves in and out.

If (like me) you’re not a super-fan of super detailed budgeting, you can zoom out and stick with high-level income and expense buckets. For example, you can lump groceries, cleaning supplies, pet food, and things like that under a catchall “Household items” category… car payment, gas, insurance, and repairs can all get lumped into “Car.”

Bottom line: You get to decide what your budget looks like. Use whatever works for you to take control of your money.

Myth: Budgets take up tons of time.

The Truth: You can make your budget as time-consuming as you want, including not at all.

If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to budgeting (or you just don’t want to spend a lot of time on it), use an app that automatically tracks and updates everything for you. Once you get your accounts linked and your categories set up, the app will take care of all the rest for you. You can set up alerts to let you know if you’ve gone over budget, have bills coming due, or hit savings goals.

And even though your budget will be on autopilot, you’ll still want to check in periodically to make sure everything looks right and that your goals are on track.

Not sure which budgeting app to use? Here’s a great overview of 8 of the most popular apps:

Bottom line: Creating and following a budget doesn’t have to be a huge time suck. Automate everything, and check in when you can.

Myth: Going over budget tanks your finances.

The Truth: Going over budget is like eating a pint of ice cream when you’re trying to stick to a diet. Yeah, it’s a mistake… but it doesn’t undo everything else you’ve accomplished. Budgets are flexible, and they grow and change to reflect your needs. If you find yourself going over budget regularly, it’s time to take a fresh look at your finances to plug up spending leaks or maximize income opportunities.

Bottom line: If you go over budget, give yourself a break, and do what you can to get back on track.

The Sooner You Get Started…

Creating a budget takes a little work and some time, even if you’re going fully automated with an app. Once it’s set up, following the budget will become second nature.

Even if you think you’re not ready to stick to a budget, make it anyway. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to deal with your money when you can clearly see where it’s going.

And if you need more help to get started, you can check out my book Budgeting 101. The book is full of clear, thoughtful advice and hundreds of budgeting tips and tricks that can help any single mom take control of her money and build up wealth.