5 Benefits of Budgeting

Budgeting is the foundation of your finances. It’s about control, security, and freedom. A budget isn’t about restriction, even though it may seem like that at first.

A budget allows you to see where you are currently spending your money, which allows you to make changes so that your spending aligns with your values. You can start spending money on the things you love — guilt-free — while still preparing for the future.

It’s not always easy, though, especially at first. A budget might make you come face to face with some unpleasant realities.

1. Know Where Your Money Is Going

This is the first benefit of budgeting that you’ll come across. You’ll start to realize just how much you are spending in the various categories.

There’s no way I’m spending that much on Doordash!

We tend to underestimate how much we spend on small things, not realizing that those small things are the reason we can’t meet our larger goals. We reject advice such as “make coffee at home” because it feels pointless. We roll our eyes every time we hear it, thinking, “When am I going to get some real advice?” but the reason that type of advice (whether it’s coffee or avocado toast) keeps getting brought up is because it’s often true. People just don’t realize it.

I had a friend who drank a lot of coffee. “It’s only $6!” she would say. This is true — each coffee was only $6, and $6 isn’t going to make a dent financially. But she was getting coffee twice a day… and so was her husband.

That’s $720 a month in coffees. And $720 a month will make a dent.

She ended up buying a coffee subscription from a local convenience store, which was $20 a month for unlimited coffee. She and her husband still get their twice-daily coffee, but they save $700 a month.

So, understanding where you are actually spending your money is a huge step in the right direction.

Related: What is the Average Household Budget?

2. Make Your Money Match Your Priorities

Before you come for me for the “give up your daily coffee” advice, let me say that if you love your coffee, keep it. It’s not about the coffee. It’s about priorities.

Understanding where you spend your money is step one in budgeting.

Step two is making adjustments so that your spending matches your priorities.

You may not know your priorities right away, and that’s perfectly okay. They may start to come to the surface over time as you work with your budget. You never have to feel guilty about how you are spending your money. Never. It’s your money, and you can spend it however you like.

The problem is that most people aren’t happy with their money. They wish they could save for retirement, go on vacation, or live in a nicer neighborhood, not realizing that they could do those things if they stopped spending money on things they don’t care about.

So decide what is important to you and allocate your money so that you spend more where it matters and less where it doesn’t. Budgeting is about making conscious, deliberate choices with your money — not following someone else’s rules about money.

Related: Best Free Budgeting Software

3. Prepare You for the Future

A very common theme when people start budgeting is that they realize they are spending too much money on convenience items, often restaurants, and not enough on preparing for the future. How many people are literally eating their retirement?

Once you stop spending money on things that aren’t important to you, you can start spending money on things that are. This often means building a safety net and saving for retirement.

You can’t work forever. Even if you love your job right now and can’t imagine quitting, that can change at any moment. You could get a new boss. The industry could change. Your health could deteriorate and prevent you from working.

Saving for retirement and building wealth is imperative, and it starts with budgeting.

4. Reduce Your Money Anxiety

Knowing you are spending your money in a way that is in line with your priorities and saving for your future can be a huge relief.

Good budgeting means you know exactly what money you have and the job it needs to do. You will have fewer financial emergencies and actually be able to help out those you love more than before and do it without resentment or guilt.

It can guide your decisions and allow you to spend guilt-free on things you love. A budget isn’t about restriction but about freedom. However, it does require you to take a hard look at the unvarnished truth of your current situation.

5. Force You to Face Uncomfortable Truths

One reason some people don’t like budgeting is that it forces them to confront some things in their lives that they aren’t ready to face. Money is so much more than dollars and cents; our emotions drive a lot (if not all) of our choices, and a spreadsheet does not leave many places to hide.

If we aren’t entirely happy with our choices, then seeing them in a budget can force us to acknowledge some hard truths.

It could be something as simple as not being where you want to be in life. For example, if you feel like you should own a house or have a certain income, then seeing that you aren’t anywhere near those goals can be stressful.

Or you might have a family member who always seems to need financial help. The budget will let you see exactly what you are sacrificing to help them, which might make you feel resentful for helping but also guilty for not helping.

Or, toughest of all, maybe you have a spouse who is irresponsible with money, and a budget puts that fact in sharp relief.

It’s understandable to want to avoid a budget in cases like this. It’s not about the budget itself but the fact that it doesn’t allow us to avoid dealing with these difficult problems. It’s easier to just pretend they don’t exist.

The problem is that they do exist, and you will have to deal with them in some way. And if a budget forces you to deal with them now rather than later, it might actually be the biggest benefit of all.


Budgeting seems like a simple task, but when you really think about it, it’s no wonder that many people struggle with it. But even if budgeting is something that you’ve tried before

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