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Eliminate Debt Without a Budget: Our Personal Plan

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Do you absolutely hate budgeting? What if I told you that you could forget about budgeting, but still achieve all of your goals and dreams? You’d sign up for that right? I know I would.

My Love, Yet Hatred For Budgeting

I never really used to mind budgeting because I knew that if I stuck with my plan, that ultimately I would be financially free and happy with the end result at retirement. The part I absolutely hated about budgeting was the feeling of constriction! If it was nearing the end of the month and my friend wanted to go snowboarding, I had to check the “entertainment fund” and if there was nothing there, I felt like I had to say no, even though there was $3,000 in my account. I had to stick to my budget.

Forget About that Stupid Budget in 2012

Starting in January, my wife and I plan to throw away our budget and not look at it until 2013 (if necessary). “How in the world do you plan to hit your goals?” you might ask. “You’ve always taught us that without a budget, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll fail.”

I still stick by these words, and we still do have a plan, but it’s just not a traditional budget.

Our Plan

With a typical budget, you need to think of every single expense for the year, write them all down, and then figure out how much money you can spend in each category for the month. Every dollar must be accounted for. We tried this, but have finally decided that it’s not realistic.

Our audacious goal for the next few years is to pay off our mortgage. We have about $69,900 to go, but by putting an extra $1,200 toward the loan each month, the debt will be paid off by July of 2015! Rather than break down all of the other goals into individual compartments, we plan on focusing on just this one.

Also, we know that we need to beef up our emergency fund in case something goes wrong with our vocations, our house, or our vehicles. So, that is also something that needs to be done in the near-future.

Here’s the Plan

At the beginning of each month, we’ll have 3 automatic deductions from our account: 1) the regular mortgage payment, 2) the extra $1,200 payment, and 3) a set amount (most likely $400 or so) that will get transferred from our checking account to our emergency savings account.

After the deductions, my wife and I will just live on whatever’s left! That’s the plan! If we really want to go out to eat 6 times that month, then that’s what we’ll do, but if the money dwindles we might need to live on cheese and crackers until we hit the 1st of the month again! It’s simple, but I think that it will be extremely effective. Plus, we’ll be able to focus on our main goal rather than all of the pointless tiny ones within the budget.

What do you think about this goal? Have you ever tried anything like it?

Budget Money

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

30 Comments

  1. Yes, I’ve tried this and I did eat a lot of mac n’ cheese at the end of the month.

    The point of any plan is to acheive goals, so if you are acheiving your goals this way, more power to you. I’ll be sticking to budgeting.

    BTW, I normally wouldn’t feel like I couldn’t go snowboarding in your situation. I look at other categories and see if I can cut back somewhere else.

    • Ha! Yeah, I have a feeling that we’ll be scraping the back of the pantry for the first couple months until we learn to be a bit more responsible.

      I do understand your point about dipping into other funds, but what if those are needed down the line? Normally, if my one fund box is empty, then that’s it for the month.

      • I hate budgeting. It is a waste of time and effort. I have automatic deposit into my retirement fund, and my other savings. I also have my bills come out of my check automatically. Budgeting is no fun — I make it simple!

        • Sounds like we’re on the same page again Jon! I figure that as long as I’m hitting my goals, then I shouldn’t have to budget every penny!

  2. Yes, this is the way we have been living for awhile now. My wife hates budgets and finances. I loathe budgeting. I make sure that we save for retirement, but the emergency fund hasn’t been up to snuff. We will be looking to pay off more debt in 2012.

    • I think we have quite a lot in common CFM! The less time I spend on budgeting, the better.

  3. I look at budgets more of as a guideline, it is good for me to write one out as it helps me be really conscious of what I spend. However they are like diets and many times for a lot of people don’t work where simplifying them as you have are much more manageable.

    However for me if I spend unexpected money or more money in one catagory, I also look at the other catagories and just do some shifting around.

    I think budgets can just get way to detailed and complicated not to mention time consuming which is why they fail for a lot of people.

    Sounds like a nice simple plan for 2012!

    • I think it’s good that we’ve budgeted for a couple years now and know what our limits are. I think this will help us in this “no budget” effort.

  4. This is a great idea because it affords the opportunity to be aggressive with paying down your mortgage but gives you built-in flexibility at the same time. The psychological benefit of being able to spend as you see fit with what’s leftover will help avoid burnout, etc. Good luck with the new plan!

    • I am looking forward to the flexibility! Checking 25 different compartments of my budget was never a fun time.

  5. My husband and I used to budget as well. We would make spreadsheets and post it to our fridge with room to write and deduct every expense. It was a lot of work and time, which became overwhelming. So, a few years ago we adopted a similar method to what you are doing now and it works! Even when money seems tight, we always make it ahead somehow.

    • I’m glad to hear that the method works! I think it will be quite a lot of fun. It will give enough freedom for my wife to enjoy herself, and it will give me just enough structure to feel secure. 😉

  6. I like budgeting, I just don’t like not ever having enough money! I think I’ll be sticking with my budget though. It helps me to see where all our money goes.

    • If you’re always scrounging for cash, I can see where that wouldn’t be fun. I don’t expect you to adopt my method – if something works for you, then run with it! 🙂

  7. We use a flexible budget (meaning, sometimes Peter is robbed to pay Paul, but it all evens out by the end of the month), but I won’t give it up b/c since starting to budget we end up with more to give/save.

    • If it works for you, then I would definitely advise that you stick with it! Keep up the good work Emily!

  8. We have done something similar too for different goals and we too end up eating out of the freezer and pantry. It is well worth it though. It is such a great feeling to reach the goal you set out to. Best of luck to you two.

    • Even if I end up eating crumbs on the floor, I think it’s going to be a blast! 🙂

  9. I think the Mrs. had a bit of influence on this idea. She seems like she’d be happier with a no-budget lifestyle. I see no problem if you really can do it. And if you get to enjoy a few extra things along the way – life is short – go for it!

    • Indirectly, yes, the Mrs. most definitely had an influence on this one. If it were just me, I wouldn’t need a budget because I never spend any money! 🙂 My wife loves to go out and have fun with friends (which is why I married her — I need someone to get my butt out of my chair once in a while), so we try to track the spending to make sure we’re not having too much fun.

      This is how the budget works today:

      Mrs. LAMF: “Honey, can I buy this purse?”
      Me: “No, we don’t have any clothes money left.”
      Witnesses: “Wow, did you hear that? Her husband is such a dictator…”

      I’d like to take myself out of this equation, and this definitely does it! If there’s $0 in our checking account, we can’t buy anything. 🙂

    • I think so too! I guess I’ll let you all know once 2012 starts! 🙂

  10. I sort of mix what you plan on doing with a budget. I take my net income minus expenses and savings and I live on whatever is left. If I go over, I am usually not too concern about it as long as the end year total works out.

    • Whatever works for you, stick with it!

  11. Without a plan I derail completely, I’m on autopilot now where I don’t spend much time planning every little expense anymore… but I do log everything into categories. I don’t set a strict amount for stuff like entertainment anymore after the regular expenses are taken care of… but without a budget, at this point I would still be completely lost.

    • At least you know what works for you Andrea! Hang onto that budget if that’s what you need to do!

  12. This is the way I’ve always budgeted, but I got into such habits that it was never an issue. I knew I’d spend $50 per week on food, for example, and since I am a true creature of habit, it was always the same foods. Anyway, that food almost always lasted through the full week — never went hungry 🙂

    Next year, I think I want to try meal planning to decrease my food expenses (I no longer spend $50 per week on groceries…much, much more nowadays!). So I may actually become more of a budgeter!

    • That doesn’t sound like a bad thing Christa. It sounds like you’re doing exactly what works for you, and that’s what counts!

  13. There’s no wrong when you are budgeting your money to have a savings, but not to the extent that you are almost depriving you and your family to have a vacation or just a little of having a break and have a great time. Just refrain from buying unnecessary things. And save money to pay for your debt.

    • Yep yep! Couldn’t have said it any better myself Brenneth!


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