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Is it just me, or does the word 'budget' sound like something Jabba the Hut burped out? Either way, when it comes to budgeting, the 'fun' might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
For many of us, budgeting is a necessary evil — a tedious task that we try to avoid as much as possible. But what if we told you that budgeting can actually be fun? I know that might sound positively insane, but with a few simple adjustments, you can turn budgeting from a chore, into something a little more enjoyable and rewarding.
To get a few tips and tricks about how to make budgeting less of a drag, we spoke to Amanda Thompson, Director at Endurance Finance, for some insight.
Stop calling it a 'budget'
Much like 'study' or 'exam', the mere thought of saying the words can be anxiety-inducing. According to Thompson, the first step to removing some anxiety and stress around budgeting is to stop calling it a 'budget'.
"Just like the word 'diet', 'budget' has such negative connotations. It feels so restrictive, prescriptive and static. When we think of the word budget we think about penny-pinching, sacrificing enjoyment for financial stability and living within limited means and depending on our own money story this may be very triggering," she tells Refinery29 Australia.
Instead, Thompson suggests calling your budget a 'spending plan' (or something else cute and fun), to frame your money management as more goal-oriented, rather than restrictive.
"Money and feelings are inseparable. If we instead tell ourselves that we have a spending plan, we no longer feel restricted or inhibited in our ability to make our money work for us. We will feel confident and empowered to take positive action to improve our financial position," says Thompson.
Once you've shaken off the weight that comes with the word 'budget', setting achievable goals that won't make you rip your hair out is the next step. Think about what you want to accomplish with your budget, whether it's paying off debt, saving for a vacation, or simply getting a better handle on your finances. Breaking them down into manageable steps (and giving your savings accounts fun reminders like 'Eras Tour $$') will make things all the more easy.
Give your relationship with money some green flags
Just as our interpersonal relationships can have red flags, so can our relationship with money — which ultimately impacts the way we spend it.
"We need to accept that money is an inherently emotional topic," says Thompson. "Every single financial decision we make is backed by an emotion. You may have grown up in a home where money was tight, you may have fallen on hard financial times yourself, you may even struggle with financial literacy. However, just because money is hard, that doesn’t mean we get to avoid it."
One of the first ways Thompson suggests reframing your relationship with money is by using 'money affirmations', as powerful, positive thoughts that you repeat to yourself, until they become a reality. She suggests repeating simple lines like, 'I am wealthy beyond money,' as a way to change your thoughts about money and open your mind to think more positively about it.
Additionally, Thompson acknowledges that external factors like societal expectations at a certain stage of our lives can also hinder our progress when it comes to removing the stress from money.
"Too often, we let external factors like societal expectations, or the opinions of others influence our decisions, leading us to live a life that doesn't reflect our true selves," says Thompson.
"When we embrace who we truly are and align our values with financial decisions we find that discussing money becomes far easier."
Little treats are a must
Little treats are a must in this economy. And if you've made a spending plan that you've stuck to, don't forget to reward yourself for it by setting up a system that incentivises your very adult behaviour.
For example, if you've saved up enough coin, finally buying the new coffee machine you've been eyeing off should absolutely be on the cards. If you want to keep the good money habits going, using a cashback provider could also help you save a little coin while treating yourself too.
Cashrewards offer cashback on brands like Virgin Australia, SSENSE and Apple, which is handy if you've saved up for a big purchase like your dream holiday or the luxe handbag you've been eyeing.
Overall, budgeting doesn't have to be a dreaded chore. With a little creativity and a positive attitude, you can turn budgeting into a fun and, dare we say it, even rewarding experience. These days, there are so many resources at our disposal — from podcasts to apps — that help set achievable goals. So with these tips in mind as well, you'll be on your way to (hopefully) stressing less about spending.
Nothing in this article is intended as, or should be taken to be, financial advice.