Why Bother Creating a Budget?

by RJ

in Money Management

One of my bad habits, is to check traffic statistics for Gen Y Wealth on a daily basis. Why might seeing how the site’s traffic is doing be a had habit? Because I don’t do anything with this information.I don’t study the data like I should. All I do is look at my visitors from the previous day, which takes about 15 seconds, and either give myself a pat on the back or a kick in the butt.Because I want to change my behavior, my new goal is to only look at my traffic stats once a month. During this time, I’m going to really dive deep and learn site analytics. I’m going to study, where traffic comes from and how I can apply the 80/20 principle in order to improve. This once a month review session, will help identify opportunities for growing my traffic.

Why Bother Budgeting?

So what does checking my traffic stats have to do with budgeting? The more I discuss budgeting with members of Gen Y,  the easier it is to see that most people go about budgeting, like I used to go about my web stats.

For example, I typed searched for the words Mint+Budget in Twitter. Here is what I found: (I don’t want to include the names, but you will find something similar)

  • “Getting our budget in order. Organizing all those uncategorized items in #mint
  • “Is obsessed with my @mint account. Let’s see how long I can stay on budget!!”
  • hey Congress, we just balanced our family budget with the help of mint.com, google docs, and Dave Ramsey, why not give it a shot?s

What’s Wrong?

Instead of seeing people take action, to actually improve their financial situation, I see people stuck in the pattern I was. They are not using the information for their advantage. If they were, people would be Tweeting…

  • “Decided to switch to a high interest rate bank, after reviewing my budget in @Mint
  • “Looking at my budget in Mint, I saw that I paid $165 in investment fees last month. Way to high! Now going to move”
  • “Giving up eating out for 30 days, after I saw my dining out budget was $250 last month in @Mint.

Noticed the difference between the first set of real quotes, and the second set of made up quotes? The second set actually included people taking action and improving their finances.

Where to Start

There’s no point in making a budget, to make a budget. You need to actually do something with the budget.

The simplest way to start is to give your INCOME and expenses a SWOT analysis. Go through the last three or so months of data and identify your:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities and
  • Threats
Do this for 30 minutes once a month. I guarantee that you will get a lot more out of your budget then you’re getting now.In the comments, let me know the reason why you’re budgeting. What specifically do you do with the information you receive?

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JackieNo Gravatar August 13, 2010 at 8:01 am

I’m cracking up at the “Giving up eating out for 30 days” sample. But you’re right, it’s *action* that matters, not things that you’re going to do. To answer your question, I will admit that I don’t actually budget. I track my spending, by a zillion categories, and just focus on the goals I have instead and make sure that I’m transferring money to those.

RJNo Gravatar August 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

@Jackie – Your welcome for the good laugh. Budgeting isn’t a necessity by any means. I believe for anyone just taking control of their finances, there is no better way to see what needs improvement. After you’re expenses remain constant, there is no need to remain budgeting as long as you’re paying your goals first.

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