By Eric on August 28, 2012 13

Misconceptions About Budgeting

If you have and keep a budget you might know what I mean when I say that sometimes we get dirty looks when we mouth the word “budget.” For some reason it has a stigma to it that makes the non-budgeting folk wrinkle their nose. Like going on a budget is the end of life on planet earth. If you have been hesitant to create your first budget, we are here to help relieve some of the misconceptions about budgeting that might be holding you back from taking control of your money.

It might first help to define the word budget. My personal definition would be: having a plan for where your money goes before spending it. Intentionally planning for expenditures on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, yearly). Go ahead and call it a spending plan if the word budget really rubs you the wrong way.

Misconceptions About Budgeting

  • “I won’t be able to buy the things I want.” Quite the contrary. Budgeting has allowed us to set aside the proper funding to pay for the things we want with cash. Things like a minivan, landscaping and camera just to name a few items. Of course it’s not all about material possessions, but we just don’t want this to hold you back from getting on a budget.
  • “All my bills get paid. What more is there?” All of our bills got paid before we started a budget, too. That’s just being responsible. A budget gets you beyond the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. It will show you where all of your money is going so that you can re-allocate to the areas that really matter (saving for emergencies, retirement and your kids’ educations).
  • “I use my credit card for everything and pay it off every month.” Been there, done that. Never saved a dime. We earned a few gift cards through points systems after spending thousands of dollars, but ultimately we spent more because it was easy and emotionless to swipe a card. When we have a budget, it’s easier to stick to our plan every month simply knowing that every dollar has a name.
  • “I don’t spend more than I make.” That’s the trap we were in. We weren’t spending more than we made, but we also weren’t saving any money or moving toward any sort of financial goal. If you want to be intentional, you need a plan.

The reason we budget is so that we can get ahead, and so that we can intentionally enjoy our life. We give up Starbucks trips and lunches out every day so we can have things like iPhones. This matters more to us.

Having a budget allows us to set priorities for the things we want to spend our money on. We say no to things like going to the movie theater so that we can say yes to going out to eat with friends when the opportunity arises.

The point is that it’s YOUR budget and your money. Do with it what you want, but do have a plan.

We love us some budgets here in the Williams household. It’s been a saving grace not only to our pocketbooks over the years, but also to our marriage. It’s helped our communication immensely and has helped get on the same page with our finances.

It’s even trickled over into other areas of our lives. Because, of where we are with our budget, it’s allowed us to invest in areas of our lives that we have been neglecting due to the cost. Right now that means investing in a wellness coach/chiropractor that’s helping us get healthy. And eating healthy pretty much means forking over some dough. But not bread dough…bread is full of sugar…

Have a question about budgeting? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.




Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I would fall in the “I use my credit card for everything and pay it off every month” category. For me, those rewards are the incentive (I have taken many trips with those frequent flyer miles!). When I have cash money, it seems I am less intentional with how I spend it for some reason. I love using Quicken to help me with my budget because it REALLY shows where the money is going (for example, re: your last blog about setting aside “personal care” money from your grocery money… it is really beneficial in those instances because I can split categories and really divy it up per bill). Doing our finances is my Sunday “chore,” but really it’s more like a computer game to me because it has sound affects and you are trying to beat your highest “score.” ;) I also love it when it comes to tax-prep season because I have instant numbers I can work with and print out. Overall I agree that you just need to be AWARE of where your money is going. That way if there is a problem, you can identify what needs to change as you prioritize. Priority and living within your means is key!

    • Thanks for sharing, Lara. I think it’s awesome that you’ve found what works best for you. Even though you use a credit card, it sounds like you certainly have a handle on your budget! And I love how you make it fun! We were using a credit card WITHOUT a budget, which was not a good idea.. :)

  2. amen! husband and i are still getting the hang of budgeting but i can already tell a difference.

  3. I pulled out a cash envelope at a hipster bar the other night in downtown Austin….you should have seen the looks I got! Haha! Love your financial posts : )

    • That’s hilarious! I always feel the eyes looking at me at the grocery store as I sift through the cash and change to get the exact amount.

  4. Thanks to you all, we have started figuring out how to build a zero based budget for our home. We have been using Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Budget to build a loose budget and, more importantly at this time, figure out exactly what we’re spending (and wasting) our money on. We were both scared to do this mostly because we were in denial. We have two incomes and live quite comfortably for our age, but haven’t been doing anything intentional beyond investing in the programs through our jobs. Thanks, again, for all the nitty gritty that you share as it’s inspiring others to take positive steps!

  5. I read your blog off & on, and I’m so glad I checked in today. Last night my Husband & I sat down and really talked about what we need to do to get on a “budget” or “spending plan.”

    We always pay our bills, and then after that we blow the rest of our money on whatever went…which is fun, but we are a point in our lives where this has to stop & we need to get serious.

    We figured out how much we will get paid this Thursday and then “spent” our money on paper – writing down where it would go. — It’s going to be an interesting adjustment, but we NEED this.

    • Good for you Jena. Be sure to check out our other posts on budgeting, and if you have any further questions email me! We love talking about this stuff.

  6. Before I got married my ‘budgeting’ was more of the “I’m not spending as much as other people so I must be doing okay.” variety. I mainly went with this because number crunching scares me. I wasn’t scared of the end result but the process certainly freaked me out. I remember once being on the phone to my boyfriend (now husband) crying hysterically because I couldn’t remember which coins went into which envelope…!

    Budgeting is definitely easier as a pair. We make decisions about it together but the burden of the mathematical side of it rests with my husband right now. Phew.

    One highlight of budgeting is (like you both) being able to get iPhones by sacrificing the odd meal out or two. It’s nice to enjoy this luxury guilt-free because we’ve simply given up other luxuries, rather than having to cut back on essentials. One downside of budgeting for me is not having other people who ‘get it’ so they don’t appreciate that certain things are just no go areas because of how our budget works. It’s awkward to tell people about something not being in our budget because it’s usually taken to mean ‘we can’t afford it’ rather than being an intentional decision about where/how we spend our money. Though true, sometimes we just can’t afford it!

  7. Completely agree with you about the credit card! Just this week we decided that we are only buying groceries with CASH from now on. It’s just way too easy to grab something extra here or there when I know I’m paying with plastic, even though we do pay off the balance right away. Sure enough, this week the grocery bill was $30 less than normal. We also started a toiletries envelope. We want to buy a house in the next year, so we are saving 40-50% of our monthly income right now and every dollar matters when you’re working towards your goal.

  8. Great post you guys! What you said about budgeting is so true. A budget is not meant as a means to keep you from having any fun. It is simply a plan that will allow you to stay in control of your money and not go into debt for things. It really helps determine what a person’s wants vs. needs our!

  9. My husband handles our finances and we always talk about creating a budget but we can never quite get there. We always have enough to pay our bills and the odds and ends that come up but our cash flow isn’t the greatest, I know it could be so much better! I have offered to take over handling the finances, or at least helping out but my husband doesn’t want to give that up. He know’s that we will have to give up some things and I don’t think he’s ready to admit that :) Any suggestions on getting your spouse on the same page?

    • If you both are willing, taking Financial Peace University changed that for us. Kelsey didn’t want to budget either, but when she was ready to take the class, we used that opportunity to get on the same page about our finances.

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