One of the oldest pieces of financial advice you might hear is that it’s important to follow a budget. Without one, you might easily lose track of your spending and fall short of meeting your financial goals.
But let’s face it — not everyone has the patience for budgeting. And if you’re someone who loathes the idea of sitting down with a spreadsheet every week and logging your expenses, you’re not alone.
Granted, these days, helpful budgeting apps can make the process less cumbersome. Many of these apps sync up with your checking account and credit cards to categorize your spending and help you stay on course. But even then, you still have to look at that data. And that may not be something you’re eager to do.
Believe it or not, that’s something financial guru Suze Orman has no problem with. Orman herself is not a fan of budgeting. And she thinks there’s a much easier route you can take to achieve financial security.
Why Orman thinks budgeting stinks
Orman knows that people are often told they need to budget. But she also thinks budgets tend to be fairly useless.
“They’re like diets,” she says. “You cut back on things and then get frustrated and go out and buy stuff…it’s not effective.”
She makes a really solid point. Budgets can be extremely restrictive. If you’re supposed to only have $400 a month allocated to groceries and you spend $415, you’re now in a position where you need to look at other expense categories and find out where to make up that $15. Who wants to spend time doing that?
Similarly, you might do a really good job of sticking to a budget for a period, only to get tired of the process and throw that budget away. So why put yourself through the torture in the first place?
A better idea to save money
The whole purpose of sticking to a budget is to not spend your entire paycheck month after month. That way, you can build up some savings — money that serves as your financial cushion.
But a better way to get to that place, says Orman, is to automate the process of saving money. Arrange for an automatic transfer so that a portion of each paycheck leaves your checking account and lands in your savings. It can be $40 a month, $80 a month, or $200 a month — whatever you can afford.
If you go this route, you’ll know you’re meeting your savings goals and are building yourself the emergency fund you need. And from there, you can stop sweating the small stuff, like going $15 over your grocery allocation for the month.
And it’s not just emergency savings you can automate. If you’re looking to save for retirement, signing up for a workplace 401(k) will let you build a nest egg by having funds deducted from your paychecks automatically. And if you don’t have access to a 401(k), many IRAs allow you to set up automatic transfers, too.
It’s important to have savings, and following a budget might get you to that place. It might also get you there in an aggravating, frustrating manner. So rather than force yourself to budget, look at automating your savings instead.
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