Personal Finance

How To Live Without A Budget Successfully

how to live without a budget successfully

Controlling your spending by implementing a budget is usually one of the many resolutions made. But could you spend your money properly without a budget? Several months ago, CNBC uploaded a video on YouTube where one of their personal finance reporters spoke about living without a budget and why other people should too. The video was panned by various personal financial experts, and it has 3,000+ dislikes on YouTube! While I understand why people disliked the video, the reporter did have a point: You can live without a budget. I do and I’m pretty good at it since I’m very diligent about every dollar I spend. If you want to go this route, here’s how to live without a budget successfully.

How To Live Without A Budget Successfully Step #1: Determine If You Have The Willpower To Do This

I already know I have the willpower to live without a budget, but do you? This step is the most important because you have to look within yourself to see if you can actually live without a budget successfully. If you can’t, that’s fine! At least you’re honest enough to admit that. Go ahead and live within a budget, as budgeting in itself isn’t bad.

But if you don’t know if you do or don’t have the willpower and you want to find out, you must answer the following questions:

  • Are you impulsive with your money?
  • Can you keep a running tally of how much money you can actually spend?

If you are impulsive with your money, then you don’t have the willpower to live without a budget successfully. But you can in the future. Living by a budget for a period of time can help you with this issue.

Finally, you must keep a running tally of the amount of money you can actually spend. Yes, bank apps on your cell phone can help with this task, but the apps may not show pending or upcoming transactions. So many people get comfortable thinking they have more money to spend, sometimes causing overdrafts.

What I do is use calendar events to remind myself of upcoming transactions like electricity or cell phone payments. This way I can go ahead and subtract those payments from my bank account and actually know what I can spend.

How To Live Without A Budget Successfully Step #2: Know Your Income And Expenses

Before you can throw away your written budget, you must know exactly your income and expenses.

The way I do this is check anywhere from one to three months of pay-stubs to find my average gross and net income. I do this because some months I work overtime and other months I don’t. From there, I write down these figures into my journal. Then I enter into my journal my fixed expenses, like rent, car insurance, and Internet.

What I have left are my variable expenses, from groceries to entertainment. This is what I don’t budget for at all. This is when your willpower and running tally of the money you can actually spend come into play.

My best example of how I live without a budget successful is when I’m at the grocery store. I already know what I’m going to buy because I have a list, and I already know the prices because they’re listed in the circular. Having a list and an estimated checkout price in my head makes it harder for me to splurge on an item that catches my eye.

Step #3: Practice Makes Perfect

How to live without a budget successfully takes some practice, so don’t expect to do it correctly overnight.

And you’re going to make mistakes. You are going to splurge on an item, or miscalculate how much money you can spend. It’s OK! I’ve been there too. What I do is a postmortem. I investigate why and how I went wrong so I can learn from the incident and not go it again.

So my suggestion is to practice living without a budget for one week and see how it goes. During this time you should take detailed notes either at the end of each day or throughout the day. Then when the week is over, you can go through your notes to see if you were successful with your goal. If not, then you perform a postmortem.

Now if you want to use a budget for a week and then not use one for another week, I think that’s a good practice too. That way you can see the pros and cons of each.


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