Are budgets really that boring?


Are budgets really that boring - Financial Services Council New Zealand

Let's face it, the thought of setting up a budget can be a tad boring. That’s probably because we often think of budgets as things that make us scrimp and save, meaning we miss out on the good things in life.

But budgets have a bad rap, and it’s time to change that.  

Done right, they’ll actually let you do more of the things you love and as a result help you to enjoy the life you want even more than you already do. 

Here’s why budgets don’t have to be as boring as you think they are. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll feel inspired to create one of your own.  

1. Your budget doesn’t have to be an Excel spreadsheet 

If you’re put off the idea of creating a budget because rows, columns and formulas aren't your cup of tea, that’s understandable. But there’s more than one way to do a budget.

Here are a few alternatives to the Excel spreadsheet: 

  1. apps or budgeting templates from your bank (tip: take a look at their website as they might have some downloadable templates you can use). Some of these can be found on our resources page;

  1. Sorted's online budgeting tool;  

  1. smartphone apps that you can download from the App Store or the Google Play store;

  1. resources from your financial adviser (if you have one). 

If you’re a creative person or have kids who like to get hands on, consider whipping out the craft kit and turning your budget into a colourful poster you can put on your fridge. Think outside the box and you might just start to enjoy budgeting a whole lot more. 

2. Change up your language  

Budgeting can be fun Financial Services Council New Zealand

Does the word “budget” make you scrunch your face up or let out a groan? You're probably not the only one! 

Again, creativity is your friend. Calling your budget something that gives you a more positive reaction could make you more inclined to engage with it. A simple change from “2021 Budget” to something more fun might change the way you think about it entirely. 

While you’re at it, you can rename your bank accounts as well. Instead of "Savings", why not rename your travel savings "Wanderlust Fund" or the money you've saved up for your pet a "Doggie Dollars". Don't be afraid to get humorous or a bit left field if it'll make you more excited about the idea of saving money. 

3. Budgets aren’t just about saving; they're about spending too

The point of a budget isn’t to take life’s small pleasures away from you; it’s actually to make sure you can continue to enjoy them (while still making sure you have money set aside for emergencies and for big ticket savings, of course).   

We all have things that make us smile. For you, these things might be going to the movies with your grandkids, enjoying brunch with friends, sipping that morning cup of coffee or going on the occasional weekend getaway with your partner.  

Instead of cutting these things out of your budget so you can save for the boring stuff (rent, mortgage repayments, bills - you know the ones!), factor the fun stuff into your budget. This way, you'll feel like you still have some money to go towards the things that make your life a little brighter.

Suddenly, your budget changes from something that stops you from having fun to something that enables you to enjoy life. 

4. You’ll realise what’s important to you 

Budgeting and identity Financial Services Council New Zealand

In the process of creating a budget, you’ll realise some pretty interesting things about yourself; in particular, what you value. Instead of judging yourself for what you spend your money on, consider it a reflection of who you are.  

What we spend our money on is an expression of our identity. Some of us will use it to engage in hobbies that connect us with our passions and with other people. You might use it to purchase experiences that allow you to learn more about the world and grow as a person. Others might use it to buy things that let them express themselves through art, clothing or design. Perhaps you like to allocate some of your money to support charities who do work that's close to your heart. 

Whatever it is, use the time you spend budgeting as a time to reflect on what's important to you - and that's not boring at all. 

Still think budgets are boring? 

That’s fair enough – personal finance isn’t something everyone will find fun, and that’s okay. The trick is to find someone to help you. This might be your partner, a family member or a friend who’s a whizz at accounting.  

You could also consider getting financial advice. 34.5% of Kiwis not currently getting advice consider that it would be helpful for budgeting and cash flow management, according to our Money and You research.  

And those 34.5% would be right; the same research also found that those Kiwis who get advice have a better handle on their budget, particularly younger New Zealanders. Kiwis aged 37 and under receiving professional financial advice reported more savings and a budget that helps them live within their means.

There are plenty of places to go if you want a helping hand, and our blog on Getting help with your finances outlines some of the places you can start - some resources are even free.  

This information is general information only. It is not intended to constitute financial advice and does not take your individual circumstances and financial situation into account. We encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted financial adviser or other professional advice. The links that are provided or names of third parties are additional resources that you access at your own risk and the FSC takes no responsibility for any third party content. The FSC and its employees make no express or implied representations or give any warranties regarding this information and we accept no responsibility for any loss, damage, cost, or expense (whether direct or indirect) incurred by you as a result of any error, omission, or misrepresentation in this information. 28 April 2021. 

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