The “B” Word

What *is* a budget?!

I know a “b-word” that will make your skin crawl. I’ve seen grown women gasp at the mere mention of it. Others stick up their noses, “That is for broke people,” they explain. Me? It happens to be one of my favorite words! I make a new one every month, and my husband even gets in on the action. I teach my clients how to make their very first one at our first meeting. Are you ready for this?

Here it comes!


There! I said it. In so many homes, a budget has become synonymous with restrictions, punishments, and even bills that sit unpaid. How many times has someone you know said, in a hushed tone, “Her husband put her on a budget after her last trip to...?" A budget doesn’t have to be a constraint, though. In the words of money expert Rachel Cruze, “A budget is permission to spend!”

When your family creates a zero-based budget that you agree on together before the month begins, you don’t have to worry about spending a little extra for that cute pair of shoes - they’re in the budget. Hurried check-out line texts to your beloved asking if there is money in the account for a candy bar or cold drink have become a thing of the past, and you don’t have to worry about getting “in trouble” for stopping at the craft store after dropping the kids off at school.

Creating your first budget is an easy process, and once you get the hang of it, it can take as little as 30 minutes a month. The goal of a zero-based budget is to give every dollar a purpose (call it a “mission” to keep your husband interested!). Start at the top of your page with your total monthly income, then subtract your monthly expenses one at a time. Start with giving and saving, then include everything from the mortgage to the kids’ allowances. Don’t forget to include fun stuff like his and hers splurge money and money for entertainment and family excursions. Your first budget is going to be hard, you’re probably going to budget way too much in the “spending” category, and half what you actually need in the “grocery” section. Don’t worry, budgeting, and learning to live with a budget, takes three to four months before you get the hang of it. Give yourself, and your spouse, some grace as you learn a new way of handling money.

To make your first budget easier, I created a basic budget template that you can download for free here. After you fill it out with your spouse, schedule your free Budget Review for advice on how to make living on your new budget the first step to reaching your money goals.

Happy budgeting!

And remember, John Maxwell said, “A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went!”