RGraf is an accountant who loves to read, study history, and travel. She has researched and written for educational sites and authors.
Budgeting is an important thing in everyone's life. It helps keep us financially stable. It helps us reach our goals. It also has a reputation for being a monster—terrifying and impossible to handle. Yes, it can be, but only if we allow it to.
In fact, budgeting can be fun. There are ways you can approach budgeting to take the scary edge off. Fun can be found. Don't believe me? Let's just look at your household budget and how it can be fun.
What Is Fun About It?
Budgeting does not sound like fun. The truth is that very few people enjoy budgeting. It involves numbers, which can scare people to death. People tremble before numbers. Their mind goes to mush. Numbers have such extreme power over us mere mortals. Why? Why do they have such power? They are just markings that convey information. They are a code easily read by us. That is all. Yet those marks hold such power. We give them that power. Let the power go. Have fun with it.
There is one thing you need to know about these markings. Numbers can be changed. They aren't permanent. They can give you an advantage or disadvantage. It can all depend on you. That is where the fun comes in. You can move the numbers around. You can create challenges. You can see silver linings.
Planning Can Be Fun
You might think I'm officially crazy with that statement. I very well might be, but that is not influencing my statement. It really can be fun.
Have you ever planned for a trip that you looked forward to? The planning part can be a blast. You can explore so many options that you might not even end up with once you are done. You can experiment and dream. The same can be said about your budget. It can be a fun adventure to challenge yourself. Approach the financial planning as fun instead of stressful. Remove the seriousness from it as you create it.
Make It a Goal Game
Now, I want to stress that budgeting and your finances should never be taken lightly. They are very important in your life. I'm just saying that it doesn't have to be so stressful that you lose your hair or throw up. You can just take the stress off of budgeting.
What is your financial goal? For the sake of this discussion, let's just look at short-term goals (no more than a year). Do you want a vacation in the spring? How about needing a new car? What do you need to save up for during this next year? For some, it might just be getting by or putting a little aside and starting to get back on their feet. Now you can have fun going for that goal.
List out everything you absolutely have to pay for each month in order to survive. That includes rent/mortgage, car payment, insurance, credit card bills, cable, internet, phone, gas, and food just to name a few. Yes, I know that a few of these might not be survival items unless your work depends on them. Many of us in today's world have to have the internet and a phone. If you can eliminate any and find alternatives, look into it.
Now that you know what you have to pay each month, look at how much you bring in. How much do you have left? For many of us, that would be nothing or a negative number. If it is nothing or less, look around for ways to make more money. Again, this can be fun. Find a side job delivering groceries or pizza or selling off items you don't need or want anymore. There are many ways to make the final numbers into something positive. Now you can create your "game."
Put a jar in a place you always walk by. Put all your loose change in it. If you have extra at the end of each month, take it out of your bank account and put it here. Every week, total how much you have. Every penny counts—even the ones found in the washing machine. Make a chart like fundraisers do so you can see how close you are to your goal.
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Here is where the fun can really be. Again, don't stress out. I know that is easier said than done because I've been there. But when you make it a game, you can actually find pleasure in it.
There are many different ways to do a budget. Experiment with the different ways until you find one that works for you. Give one method a try for a couple of months and see if it works with your life and you. Then try another one and see how that works.
Not every budgeting method works for every person. Play around with each one until you find the right one.
Examples of Budgeting Fun
Challenge yourself to make it fun. It doesn't have to be stressful. Here are a few examples:
Want to make your electric budget lower and possibly have more money left over each month? Put tape on all your light switches with them in the off position. See if you can function with small lamps, candles, or hurricane lamps. My family made a game of it and kept the cost of the electric bill on a board. We wanted to see how much lower we could get it. We each put our guess, and then whoever was closest got their favorite meal made. Because we made it a game, the whole family got involved and had fun with it.
Loose Change Game
I mentioned already the fun of collecting loose change. Our kids had fun collecting the loose change and then we used it to pay the bills. It also taught them the value of a single penny.
Let's say you want to get your grocery budget to be no more than $150 a week with two kids. To many, that might seem impossible, but it can be fun in trying to get there. Look at what is in your pantry. How can you use what you already have so you don't have to buy much more? Be creative in your cooking. See what you can do with less. My one daughter and I loved this because it was like a cooking challenge on TV. We'd take a whole chicken and see how many meals we could get out of it. One time I fed the four of us on $25 with what I had in the pantry and the sale items I found.
Where can we cut back more? Have the family come up with ideas and see which ones work. If one works well, you can give the person who suggested a prize. Let the creativity flow. Your kids might come up with ideas you've never even thought of.
Extra Income Search
Make extra money to help with your budgeting. Kids can help too. Have a rummage sale. Take a second job. Clean out the garage.
When you find success in your budgeting, reward yourself. Have a movie night at home or order in pizza. See where you can afford the reward and enjoy it. Don't deny yourself of everything. It is like in a diet—you'll only crave what you can't have all the more. Have fun budgeting!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on January 05, 2020:
I had never thought of it this way. It does make a lot of sense. I think I'll start looking at budgeting a little differently now.