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Everyone Benefits from a Budget

Jessica Lanning

My friend and colleague, Kathryn Amenta, is a financial advisor offering her Budgeting Basics class for nearly half the price through the end of August. If your idea of budgeting is licking your finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing, please go “sit” down with her. She calls herself a financial advisor, but I think of her as the expert on “money and emotions”—what makes someone spend money or not, how they treat their money, what their beliefs are about money, and how to treat oneself with financial self-care.  She’s genius at what she does, and she works with those who have millions and those who have negative balance sheets.

Even those with high disposable income benefit from a budget

The “myth”, if you will, around budgeting is that those with high income don’t need to budget.  The story goes something like this: “If I’m following my financial plan, and I have a lot of disposable income, then I don’t need to budget.”  My experience is that it’s often the people who have a lot of income that need to budget the most. Why?  My three observations:

  • Because higher income people are used to a high standard of living, they probably want to maintain that standard of living, and they are usually not preparing to do so.
  • When higher income people have to cut back for one reason or another (to fund college, to start a business, to have one person stay home with a child or an aging parent, one person loses his/her job, etc.), they have no idea where they spend their money or where they need to cut back to make their new lifestyle happen.
  • Higher income people “by accident” get into the habit of overspending, tend to feel less joy because the things are not bringing them happiness, and lose connection with what matters in their lives. A budget helps them to see where their values are by seeing where they are spending their money.

My advice is not about what you should or should not spend money on.  My clients come to me with that figured out and we work with maximizing what they have.  But everyone loses track from time to time.  No shame in that. The trick is just to catch it sooner rather than later and get back on track.