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Myths About Budgeting


For the past few years, I have thoroughly enjoyed budgeting. Part of the reason for my enjoyment is my inner desire from childhood to always be an adult. But, the other part is that I really enjoy working towards and achieving financial goals. The first time I was able to max out the annual contribution to my Roth IRA was an exciting moment because I know I am working towards financial security.

Budgeting is the same way for those who understand it properly. Most of the time, however, people don’t understand the benefits or positive aspects of making a budget. The negative connotations often associated with it often hide the positive aspects of budgeting and push people away. It is my belief that society has slowly formed popular myths about budgets that make it impossible to embrace fully.

Proof of this fact is evident in how personal finance bloggers talk about budgets. Many people refuse to call it a budget because of the negative connotations and insist on calling it a “spending plan.” Regardless of what you call it, it is important to consider your future financial welfare. Below are several myths about budgeting and why they aren’t true.

Budgeting is Not Fun

Most people think that budgeting is not fun. It’s just something that you have to do. I, however, think back to my childhood when my friends and I went around the neighborhood to wash cars. Not only did we have a lot of fun washing the cars and staying active as children, we also made some decent money. The money that we earned went directly towards buying more regular Nintendo games. There’s a lot of excitement in saving up for something that you really want. A big part of budgeting is prioritizing your spending, and limiting the unnecessary expenses so that you can buy what you really want. What part of that isn’t fun?

Budgeting Takes a Lot of Work

Another popular myth is that budgeting takes too much work. Not only is there the aspect of tracking your expenses, but also evaluating how much you spent and setting goals for next month. The reality is that it can be as complex as you want it. A big part of budgeting is making it your own, which includes establishing how much time you are going to spend on it. You can easily create a simple budget without too much time commitment.

Budgeting is Too Complicated

Similar to the time and work required myth, people often put off setting up a budget because it is too “complicated.” If by complicated they mean commitment or accountability, then that may be true. The truth is, in my opinion, budgeting should be an important role in managing your finances. If paying attention to what you are buying and trying to limit your spending is too complicated, then you are probably going to have a difficult time funding future goals like retirement or buying a home.

Budgeting is Too Limiting

Many of my friends have also told me that budgeting makes them feel like that can’t enjoy themselves. They suddenly feel guilty about that trip to get frozen yogurt or an occasional date night. Again, budgeting is flexible. You can determine what works for you and what doesn’t. There is no hard and fast rule about what you can spend where. With budgeting, you set the rules. You are in charge of your money and you will only be as successful as you want to be.

While people may be put off to budgeting, it is an important step taking control of your finances. It’s something that you can control at your own pace and be as elaborate or basic as you want it to be. Making it your own is the only way that you will achieve long term financial success. Otherwise, you will get burnt out trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.

What other myths make budgeting unattractive?

This was a staff post written by Corey from 20’s Finances. He writes to help young adults take charge of their finances.



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.


  1. I find budgeting fun because I save money and that to me and my family is a good feeling. Budgeting is tough work in the beginning stages. Like a diet. But once you understand the pattern it’s quit simple to follow.

    • I agree. At some point, you really find your rhythm. I did, at least.

  2. I think in an “immediate satisfaction” world like the one we live in, many people have forgotten the pleasure they get from budgeting for a goal and achieving it.

    That anticipation you feel when you’re working and saving towards a goal can be an important part of your overall enjoyment!

    • That’s true – anticipation does play a big role.

  3. I have come to love budgeting. I love knowing where my money is going and that I’m not going to be stressed out about it when it comes time to pay bills.

    I think something that a lot of people do is when they make a budget on paper (or excel), they don’t stick to it and then wonder why it doesn’t work. And yes, good budgets allow wiggle room but if you have $100 planned for splurge money and spend $500-you’re budget isn’t going to work very well. Especially if you do it all the time.

    • I agree with you. Sometimes it takes trial and error to figure it out, but there’s a point when it’s too much.

  4. I think budgeting has made people think my husband & I are broke. When we go out to lunch (this has happend multiple times), our friends pick up the bill and say “we want to treat because we know you’re on a budget.” My husband and I both have salaried jobs and we have a big enough chunk set aside each month for us to enjoy ourselves. We just live simply and it might come off to others as if we are living paycheck to paycheck.

    • ahaha. That’s sounds amazing. I need to try this. Free lunch? Yes, please!

  5. I find budgeting so fun. (I’m an organizer.) And it actually makes me feel a bit less guilty, when I know that I can afford something because I have budgeted how much I can spend each month.

  6. I think budgeting is looker down upon because it makes people realize they aren’t spending responsibly and may be spending more than they earn. Instead they avoid it and kick the can down the road…

    • That’s a good point. They are avoiding the responsibility. I can buy that…

  7. Budgeting has been essential for the financial goals I have achieved in the past couple years. There’s something about seeing how much is coming in and going out on paper that helps me to make good decisions and keeps emotion out if the equation.
    It’s a tool that helps me get where I want to be, in the same way food journal was a tool I used to help me lose weight.

    • I’m glad it has been beneficial for you Bridget. Do you think it has a bad reputation?

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head with these myths. Budgeting does have such a negative connotation but if more people saw it as a way of taking control of their finances and their future, they’d see that the empowerment is so gratifying.

    • Thanks Shannon. Let’s hope people come to their senses.

  9. Congratulations on achieving your goal! I think that having a plan (or in this case, budget) is pretty essential to achieving goals in a timely manner. A budget is just a money plan but for some reason those myths (and maybe a few others not listed) do seem to exist about budgeting.

    I find it a lot easier to achieve a goal if I have planned out what steps I need to take to get there rather than just meander without a clear idea of what needs to happen. I think most people do.

  10. Budgets should be limiting. Otherwise, why have one? That being said, I think if you don’t put at least some category for misc or fun money, you will be discouraged and might throw in the towel altogether.

  11. I can remember when my wife and I started budgeting. Unfortunately I cut it back to almost bare bones (only luxury I kept was basic cable).
    That allowed us to save my entire wife’s (fiance at the time) paycheck, along with a portion of my income. Basically we used it as a way to put aside the 20% downpayment we wanted to put away for our house. And at the same time, we also were saving to pay cash for our upcoming honeymoon.
    So, call it a budget, spending plan, or goal projection, and it all comes to be the same purpose, ensuring you have the money you want for something both now and in the future.
    Excellent post Corey!

  12. Budgeting takes lots of money – you can budget no matter how much you earn, no matter how much you save, and no matter how much you spend. But it does take some commitment, and maybe even some sacrifice. And for many people that’s where the fun ends…

  13. Myth – I make enough that I don’t have to budget.
    Making enough money to cover all the basics plus the treats that catch your eye doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from having a plan. We were in that boat years ago. Two good salaries, just a mortgage to deal with, setting aside 10-15% for retirement and paying everything on time. Great, or so we thought. An unexpected layoff caused us to quickly do an in depth assessment of what could quickly be cut until the job was replaced. Boy was that an eye opener. Turns out if we cut to just the bare essentials and dropped all extra spending and temporarily suspend the fun but nonessential stuff, we could live comfortably on about 55% of our income. Not only was the layoff now not a big issue, but when the job was replaced soon after, we made the conscious decision to keep to just the essentials and instead put all that extra income to massive retirement contributions and paying down the mortgage more than a decade sooner. Now we’re on track to retire in our mid/late 50s. Forcing ourselves to evaluate where all the money was going gave us the opportunity to assess what we really wanted. Turns out all the stuff we were wasting money on wasn’t as important as retiring early and still taking a major trip every year in the meantime. Having a budget/spending plan or whatever allows us to make the best possible use of our resources and know where we stand at any monent in time.

  14. I enjoy crunching numbers, so budgeting is an enjoyable task for me. Even when my budget and spending don’t align!

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