Grow Your Wealth

How To Budget Without Feeling Restricted

Some simple, easy ways to budget that won't make you feel deprived 

Illustration of money with a tight belt on

If you're looking for tips on how to budget money, you've come to the right place💡

'Budget' is a powerful word. So powerful, in fact, it makes the average person shudder in fear.

Because if there’s one thing that makes us want to hide under a duvet for an indefinite period of time, it’s an excel spreadsheet 🙃

Gif of woman looking confused

🤔So, what is a budget?

A budget is a plan based on your income and expenses. Budgeting let's you see how much money you've got coming in, and how much money you've got going out so you can work out how much spending money you've got for all those important Starbuck trips 💅

Budgets are tough, even for the most disciplined of us. In fact, psychology has shown that even the word budget itself sparks negativity connotations in the brain.

Many people view budgeting in the same way they view dieting – a highly restrictive activity that is definitely not fun. So if budgets are so depressing, why have one? Why not just…’follow your truth’? Manifest? Live your BEST life?

Reader, if you discover a way to manifest a healthy retirement fund, please contact us immediately.

The hard truth is, in a world where wages aren’t rising to the ever-growing cost of living, a budget is necessary to ensure you have enough to stay covered each month (plus a little extra).

It doesn’t have to be spooky, though. Just like most restrictive diets aren’t healthy, neither is an excessively strict, inflexible approach to your finances. There are simple ways on how to budget money that can help you feel in control of your money – without it taking control of you.

And if you need tips on how to make a budget, keep scrolling 💙

👉 Shift your attitude

Because our brains are wired to go into panic mode when we feel deprived, the key to sticking to a budget successfully is reminding yourself why you started budgeting in the first place.

Maybe you’re working towards becoming debt-free, working towards a down payment on a house, or saving for a dream vacation. Even if you’re just saving for a rainy day, it’s important to associate your savings with goals (Cleo can help you set up specific savings goals, btw).

If your budgeting strategy is constant deprivation with no reward, it’ll be easy to abandon ship the minute Instagram sends a shiny, targeted ad your way.

Instead, shift your mindset towards the rewards you’ll get when you spend wisely. Remind yourself of them regularly – whether that means creating a mood board, checking your bank balance daily, or scrolling Google Flights on the regular.

It’s hard to form savings habits, but science (yeah, we’re scientists now) has proven that rewards make all the difference.

And the rewards don’t have to be big, either. If you’re struggling to focus on the big picture behind your budget, try giving yourself a micro-reward every time you get a little closer to your goals. Throw an extra bag of chips in your grocery cart, watch an extra hour of Netflix, give yourself a hug!

Ok, that last one may sound a little pathetic… but think of it as a gentle reminder that you deserve nice things.

Gif of man giving himself a hug

💸 Pay yourself first

And by this, we don’t mean going on Amazon and ordering the weirdest sh*t you can find after every paycheck (Did you really need those crocs? Did you?)

If you're wondering how to budget, start by taking simple steps to ensure that before money gets into your (frankly, untrustworthy) hands, it gets tucked away where you won’t even notice its gone.

Consider setting up auto deposits to your savings account, or auto save with budget app, Cleo. Using automated tools to put money away (even if its just a small amount!) eliminates the decision-making process behind saving – which is the part where so many of us slip up.

Instead of choosing to save every month, automatic saving feels more like a tax on your income (except you get to spend it later 😎). Once you adjust your budget to the remaining cash in your account, saving will feel seamless. And, you can always pull from your reserves later in the month if you really need it.

🧠 Save smarter, not harder

When it comes to savings, there’s a tendency to put pressure on yourself to cut back on everything.

And while that might be necessary sometimes, a more conscious approach to budgeting can move you closer to your goals without making you miserable.

Budgets are personal – so treat them as such. Understand that there are some months that require more spending in some areas, and create flexibility by setting your budget accordingly each month. Consider the spends that really matter to you, and prioritise them (be careful here… again, do you really need the crocs??)

All it takes is an hour or so at the start of every month to set yourself up with a budget that suits your personal needs. We know, that’s an hour you could’ve spent doing… literally anything else. But think of it as an investment in your financial freedom 💅

Gif of Britney Spears saying she likes money

An example: If your fitness routine is what keeps you sane, make sure there’s space for it in your budget, and cut down on other areas that seem less essential.

The idea is to think consciously about where your money’s going, as opposed to restricting yourself in every area of your life. This way, you can be sure you’re meeting your budget without giving up the things you truly love.

🌱 Find a Method that suits your needs

Part of budgeting consciously means finding a method that makes sense for you. A zero-based budget is a great start, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

If you don’t already know, a zero-based budget means you plan for all of your budget each month, setting aside every bit of your income for specific bills and categories. This is a great way to ensure you stick to your budget – but it takes planning.

Since we aren’t all Type-A Capricorns, consider an ‘allowance’ style method, where you subtract your essential spending and savings from your income each month, and set a certain amount aside for discretionary spending.

This gives you some wiggle room to decide how you want to spend week to week, and feels less restrictive than the zero-based method. Keep in mind that surprise expenses are always lurking, so make sure you have something in the bank for rainy days.

Again, everyone’s different. While some folks feel too restricted by the zero-based method, others find it freeing to know exactly how they’ll spend their paycheck each month, and feel less tempted to overspend this way.

🛠 Use tools that motivate you

Technology has taken us to the moon, cured disease, given us memes! Surely, it can help us save a little money.

There are so many tools that you can keep in your back pocket that automate budgeting for you, so your finances can sort themselves out in the background.

Beyond automating your savings, budgeting tools can track your spending to ensure you’re staying loyal to your budget, remind you of your goals, and help you keep up to date with bills and important payments. When it comes to budgeting, the internet is your friend 🤝

So by now, you should have a few pointers on how to create a budget. But if you'd rather use a money app to help you budget, download Cleo and let her help you save in a way that suits YOU.

In sum…

Budgeting will never be as fun as well, pretty much anything. But it doesn’t have to be a downer. By making your budget more about goals, rewards, and making your paycheck work for you, you can get one step closer to achieving financial bliss 🧘‍♂️

Gif of three men practicing yoga

Check out the money app that roasts you blog for other ways to manage your budget.

Enjoy this post? Def give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. And of course, if you want to try the best money app in the world for free, just hit this link right here. 

Big love. Cleo 💙

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