Why Pen and Paper Budgets are Best

Technology has advanced tremendously in the last one hundred years; so much so that our way of life would be drastically different to a person alive in 1920. While I appreciate my cell phone and the other improvements brought about my technology, I can’t help but notice that technology can 1) complicate things and 2) make us forget our personal power.

For example, I used to rely on physical maps when I traveled around the city. Now I just use Google Maps. It’s awesome and is usually convenient, except for when I want to find a Chipotle less than an hour before they close and the app won’t work to save my life (I’m not bitter at all). I also struggle navigating my city without Google Maps; I get nervous sometimes when I try getting around without it. The point is, the technology is great, but if we rely on it we become dependent and forget how to get to our destination on our own. WE forget what works and has worked for years.

I feel this way with budgeting. While I love making Excel spreadsheets as much as the next nerd, I can’t help but notice that I rely on it. So, for anyone who is thinking of budgeting but doesn’t want to use a spreadsheet or a piece of software, know that you can be still successful without them. In fact, as I alluded to above, there are benefits to using a pen and paper budget over other types. So today, I’m going to give you some reasons why a pen and paper budget could be the way to go for you.

Paper budgets are free

You can make a pen and paper budget at any time with no cost to you – you don’t need to rely on software or pay for a subscription to a budgeting program. Your budget will be simple, but it will be able to do exactly what you need it to do: track your finances. This shows you that you don’t really need all the bells and whistles when it comes to making and keeping a budget.

Paper budgets are great for beginners

If you’re new to budgeting, apps and software can actually get in the way of your learning. I started with a pen and paper budget in order to understand the most important elements of a budget, and to get hands-on experience with it. You don’t have to go through that, but you may find it helpful for you, too. Later down the road, after you’ve spent time with your budget and feel confident you understand how it works, you can look into more sophisticated tools.

Paper budgets force you to do all the work

When you use a piece of software to budget for you, it does all the math on its own. However, when you do it by hand, it’s all up to you. You have to make sure all the amounts add up properly, which can be tricky for even the most diligent among us. You’ll need to focus and face your fear of math with this type of budget. It forces you to pay attention to everything in your budget, which leads us to the next point.

Paper budgets force you to re-evaluate your finances

When you re-write and update your budget by hand, you are forced to copy the information over and over again. This gives you an incredible opportunity to re-evaluate your finances and make sure they are what you want and need them to be. You are forced to re-write what is and isn’t important to you on a consistent basis, giving you tons of chances to make changes as they come up.

Paper budgets give you extra motivation

Since your budget is paper, you can easily put it on your wall if you wanted to. This ensures you never forget what you budgeted so that you stay on target with meeting your financial goals. It serves as both motivation and inspiration, especially if times get tough.

If you’ve never budgeted, I recommend trying a pen and paper budget. It isn’t perfect but, for the reasons I mention above, it’s a great option for anyone who is ready to start managing their money. Another great option? Working directly with me through one-on-one coaching. I’ll make sure you have the support you need to make you – and your budget – shine like a diamond. No matter what, just get started!

Good luck, and happy budgeting!

3 Signs You’re about to Fall off Your budget

Budgeting works for those who work at it. Sometimes, though, we struggle to maintain our budgets. Despite our best efforts we fall off, losing sight of our financial plans in favor of an appetizing short-term goal. This happens to all of us at one time or another, and it’s not the end of the world. Learn to recognize the signs when this is going to happen to you before it’s too late!

It’s okay to make this purchase, I’ve got the money.”

You want to buy something that’s not within your budget. You try justifying the purchase because it’s something that you want.

It’s not worth it! The short-term pleasure of that purchase won’t outweigh the long-term benefits of your financial goals!

If I move this money from this category, I’ll be able to afford it.”

You want to adjust your budget in order to make room for the unplanned purchase.

While adjusting your spending categories is an important part of budgeting, be wary of doing this for something you don’t really need! Remember, you set your budget with your goals in mind. Don’t break your plan for something minor or temporary.

“I’m just not going to look at my budget right now.”

You choose to not look at your budget at your scheduled times, even though that’s when you decided to maintain your records. Maybe you’re too busy at that time, maybe you don’t want to own up to the fact that you’ve messed up or want to cheat.

Reviewing your budget is an important part of the process. If you skip this, you’ll not be aware of any updates or changes you need to make for the week or month. From there, it’s a slippery slope to falling off your budget.

It’s easier to catch yourself before you fall than it is to get back on

If you realize you might be slipping, be kind to yourself. It’s a natural part of the budgeting process. However, make the decision to recommit to your budget immediately. It’ll be a lot easier than redeveloping the budgeting habit later on.

Recognize when you’re struggling and adjust

If you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, it may mean that something about it isn’t working for you. You may need to reassess how you are spending your money in order to make it a budget you can get behind. You’re better off being on a budget that isn’t “perfect” than no budget at all. It’s your journey, after all – you need to be willing to take each step.

Get help when you need it

If all else fails, seek the help of financial experts and accountability partners. They will be able to help you identify problem areas in your budget and keep you on track.

I hope this helps you identify the signs of falling off your budget. Let me know if there are signs I missed. If you need help making or sticking to your budget, check out my budgeting guide or sign up for money money coaching with me. You can also check out the rest of the Let’s Make a Budget Blog.

Good luck and happy budgeting!