They other day I was speaking with a couple about finances and budgeting. They expressed their frustration with budgeting and the finance software that they had been using. “It takes too much time,” “It just doesn’t work,” and “I know I could do better, but it’s just difficult to monitor” were comments that were made. I got the impression that they were wanting the benefits of a tightly run budget, without putting in the work required to pull it off.
I was reminded of the time that I bought my first FranklinCovey Planner. The salesman sat with me and did his little 5 minute planning seminar to get me excited about running my life on my shiny new planner. A phrase he had said came into my mind as I heard this couple grumble about their budgeting software:
“This planner is a tool, nothing more. It won’t plan your day; it wont set your goals. You are the master of your planner, not the opposite. You are the one who makes this planner into the wonderful solution that it is.”
And so it is with the budgeting software or system that we choose to use. It won’t budget for us, it won’t set our goals, and it certainly won’t keep us from spending the extra $10 for the name brand socks rather than choosing the generic pack. Our budgeting software is a tool that we work with in order to be the masters of our own finances.
And just like I am able to customize my FranklinCovey Planner, I also need to cater the way that I do my finances to ways that I know will work for me personally. I thought that MyDollarPlan.com’s article Get Out of Emotional Debt illustrated this point in a interesting way. She offers a different debt reduction system that’s centered on ridding yourself first of the debt that “bothers you the most.” Does this make financial sense (in terms of interest rates, amounts of debt, etc)? Sure it does! As long as it helps motivate you to get rid of more and more debt.
Maybe my two friends need to cater their budgeting system more to their individual motives? Maybe they need better software. Or maybe they need to bite the bullet and realize that budgeting requires effort. At any rate, there are many “tools” in the market that are sure to help them if they’re willing to put the tool to work. It’s just a matter of finding the one that works for them.
This articles was featured in the Carnival of Pecuniary Delights.