By Priya

May 24, 2021

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Show notes

🎙 Budgeting may be the foundation you need to start investing and building real, lasting wealth. But it’s often seen as a chore that no one wants to spend time on. It’s easy to keep making excuses and believing the myths that tell you budgeting isn’t going to work for you. But those myths are keeping you broke, keeping you miserable and stopping you from building the life of your dreams. It’s time to bust those myths and stop making excuses. 🤔

This episode discusses topics like:

  • The #1 excuse I hear about why people don’t like budgeting and why it’s completely wrong;
  • Why earning weekly, bi-weekly or irregular income doesn’t mean you can’t budget; and
  • The worst excuse that’s going to keep you broke, unhappy and struggling with money for the rest of your life.

Links from this episode:

Transcript

Hello, hello, friends! And welcome back to Girl on FIRE, the financial independence podcast for independent women. 

My name is Priya, I’m a Chartered Accountant, an analyst and the creator of Paper Money Co. 

I’m also a fierce financial feminist and the host of this podcast. I believe that a woman who is in control of her money, is in control of her life.

This week we’re talking about the budgeting myths that are easy to believe but are holding you back from living the life you want.

Now, I’m going to say this in every episode until it sinks in. Although Girl on FIRE is ultimately about investing and building wealth, you can’t have any of that without a solid financial foundation.

It’s about learning to walk before you can run. Investing doesn’t come around until you know how to manage money, get the basics right and budget like a pro. 

It doesn’t matter if you wake up with a billion dollars in your account tomorrow. If you don’t know how to manage your money, you’ll still end up broke.

And I’m being serious here, I’m not just fear mongering, shouting “doom be upon ye” from the mountaintops.

There’s a reason why so many lottery winners actually end up broke. It’s because it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It matters how much money you can keep.

Just for funsies: I found a really interesting article that shares the stories of 20 lottery winners who lost it all

I’ll leave it in the show notes if you want to check it out.

You’ll notice that there are people on that list who won a chunk of money but they just spent it all. And then had to go back to work.

And I don’t want that to happen to you, so if we’re going to make you a millionaire, we’re going to do it right. 

You’re going to learn how to manage your money before you start raking it in. More money won’t fix your problems. Learning to manage the money you already have will.

But before we get started, I want to remind you to head to my website — papermoneyco.com/checklist and download your free copy of my Ultimate Financial Success Checklist. 

If you want to be good with money, then this is where you start. 

It’s a great checklist that shows you all the things you need to do to be financially successful.

You just need to enter in your email address and I’ll send it over to you. 

The sooner you can get your foundation set and get those good money management practices in place, the sooner you can start investing and building your wealth. 

As always, Girl on FIRE is about learning, so whip out your favourite notebook or journal and get ready to take some notes. 

If you’ve forgotten how to use a pen in this digital age we live in, you can always find the transcript on my website — papermoneyco.com/gof21.

Okay, let’s dive in to the 5 budget myths that are holding you back from the life you want. 

#1: Budgets are too restrictive & you can’t have any fun

Now, of course, #1 on my list had to be the old myth that budgets are too restrictive or that you can’t have any fun when you’re on a budget.

And I started with this one because it’s a tale as old as time and a tune as old as song.

I know that for most of you, budgeting isn’t your favourite thing to do. It’s a chore. Not everyone loves spending hours budgeting like I do.

But too many people avoid budgeting because they want to be free as a bird, have fun and don’t want to be restricted.

Now this is something I say a lot, especially over on my Instagram @papermoneyco.

But if your budget is too restrictive, then it’s not the right budget for you. That’s super important and I need you to remember it so well that you start muttering it in your sleep.

So, I’m going to say it again. If your budget is too restrictive, then it’s not the right budget for you.

The right budget for you is the one that accurately reflects your values, your goals and the way you live your life. 

I like to say that your budget is like your glass slipper. Picture this - You ran off in your stunning ballgown and you dropped your budget at the ball.

So, then the prince or princess — whatever floats your boat — comes around trying to find the owner of this impeccable glass budget, and he goes around town trying to fit it to every woman he finds.

Now, for some women, that budget is going to feel too tight. It’s too restrictive, it’s not the right fit for them.

They’ll be hobbling around getting blisters and cankerous sores and bleeding toes. They’ll stumble around and fall all over the place.

And for other women, it’s going to be too big. It’s too roomy, it still isn’t a perfect fit. They try walking around and it’s like they’re walking with their feet in tissue boxes.

But for you, Cinderella, your budget fits you perfectly. And that’s because it was made for you — and it may or may not have been made by your fairy godmother.

I can’t emphasise that enough. Your budget must be made for you. It’s a fancy-pants bespoke kind of thing.

Your budget should be customised to you and your life

This is why I don’t like budgets that tell you how much you should spend or what you should spend on. Because those budgets are created with a specific person in mind. 

And you are your own unique and beautiful person. When you try to stick to a ready-made budget like that, you’re trying to live someone else’s life. 

That’s why it feels restrictive. That’s why it doesn’t come naturally to you — because you’re trying to live a life that isn’t yours.

Of course that will feel restrictive! You’re not being you, you’re trying to be someone else.

How you spend and save your money is so deeply rooted in who you are as a person and how you make choices. 

Your budget should be like a diary, it’s that intimate. That’s why I have a bit of trouble sharing it online.

Because I’m a pretty private person, and my budget says a lot about who I am and I’m not sure I want Joe Internet knowing those things about me.

For example, I know that I get spendy when I’m stressed or depressed or anxious. And, honestly, there’s been a lot of that going on in my life lately. 

So, I don’t tell myself not to spend money and then feeling like a failure when I inevitably do.

Instead, I budgeted a lot of spending and shopping this month. I knew I was going to do it, so why not plan for it? 

Because it’s part of my personality and I’m not going to change that just to make the numbers work. 

And you shouldn’t either. So, that’s the first myth — that budgets are too restrictive and they don’t allow you to have any fun.

#2: I can’t budget because I’m not good at numbers or I’m bad at maths

The second myth we’re busting today is this: I can’t budget because I’m not good at numbers or I’m bad at maths. 

This is another super common myth out there and I’m super passionate about busting this one. 

In every episode of Girl on FIRE, I tell you that I’m a Chartered Accountant and an analyst. 

I have it on my Instagram profile, on my website and I’ll have it on a book jacket one day. 

I worked my booty off for those letters behind my name. And I continue working my booty off to be really good at what I do. 

Numbers and spreadsheets are literally my livelihood. It’s how I put a roof over my head and feed myself. 

But I want you to remember something. I don’t consider myself to be good with numbers or at maths. 

Maths was my least favourite subject in school. And I my worst grades were in maths, too. 

I still count on my fingers. I open up a spreadsheet or the calculator on my phone to do simple calculations. 

I still picture a cake with multiple slices when I’m wondering what a third or a quarter looks like. I’m always thinking about cake!

But I’ve been successfully budgeting for years. I budgeted my way to 6-figures. And I’m continuing to invest and grow my money.

You don’t need to be an accountant to be good at budgeting

You don’t need to be a maths genius to be good at budgeting. And you don’t need to be an accountant to be good at numbers.

You don’t need trig or algebra or derivatives or any of that complicated stuff.

I learned all that stuff too but I don’t have space in my brain for it anymore. It’s gone. I Marie Kondo’d it. It didn’t bring me joy and it’s gone now.

You only need to understand basic calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. That’s all.

And you can do all those calculations on your phone. No one is asking you to do them in your head.

And when you need something more advanced — there are spreadsheet nerds like me out there who build those things for you.

You are so much smarter than you think. I want you to believe in yourself and your potential as much as I do. 

Just because you don’t know how to do something right now, doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it. 

And your budget isn’t a test. That’s super important, so I need you to remember it. It isn’t a test.

You’re allowed to get it wrong. Just don’t give up. It’s a skill like anything else. You’re going to suck at the beginning and that’s okay. 

Do you remember how robotic I sounded in the very first episode of Girl on FIRE? I sucked at being a podcaster. But I kept going. 

And now, after 20 episodes, I’m so much better at it. And I know that 20 episodes from now, I’ll get even better.

Just keep at it, learn from your mistakes and you’ll get better and better over time. 

FIRE & investment calculator spreadsheet

Before we move on, I want to ask my Girls on FIRE for a favour. If you’ve listened this far into the episode then you’re probably enjoying it, right?

So, here’s what I’d like you to do next. Pause this episode for a few seconds and head on over to papermoneyco.com/podcastreview.

I want you to leave a rating and a review for Girl on FIRE because that helps me provide better content and it helps other women out in the internet wilderness come and find us.

It’s also a great way to support this show for free. And I’d also love to send you a little something to say thank you.

So, take a screenshot of your rating and review and email it to me at priya@papermoneyco.com or share it on Instagram and tag me @papermoneyco

If you do that, I’ll send you a copy of my FIRE and investment calculator. Which, if I do say so myself, is pretty damn amazing.

It’s how I plan for my early retirement and my wealth. It shows me how my wealth is going to grow, when I can retire and how long my money will last.

And it also has a separate tab that takes Australia’s superannuation into account as well. 

And you can use it to analyse companies and different investment options when you’re picking stocks too. 

I’ve never actually seen anything like it before, so it’s pretty special. And I’m currently not offering that spreadsheet anywhere else except on Patreon. 

Not in my shop, not to my email list — it’s a ghost. So, this is kind of a money-can’t-buy type deal.

The only way to get your hot little hands on that spreadsheet is by leaving a rating and a review, taking a screenshot and tagging me in it.

That URL again is papermoneyco.com/podcastreview. I’ve made it nice and easy for you.

So, go hit pause and do that right now. It’s okay, I’ll wait. 

Okay, now that my little ad-break is over, let’s keep going.

#3: I can’t budget because I make an irregular income

Another common myth I hear is this: I can’t budget because I make an irregular income. 

Earning an irregular income — like if you earn tips or commissions or if you rely on a performance-based bonus, or if you’re freelancing — doesn’t mean you can’t budget.

It just means that you have to approach your budget differently.

Not all budgets are the same. But a lot of them are created with a specific person in mind. 

I’ll be honest with you — most budgets out there only cater for a family with kids who earn an average income and live in an average cost of living area. 

They work regular jobs and get paid a regular amount on a regular schedule. 

They live ordinary lives that are acceptable to the financial expert who created the budget, they have ordinary goals and they’re going to retire at a normal age.

And most budgets are done on a calendar month regardless of how and when you get paid and what your income looks like.

That’s what most budgets are.

But there are some specific strategies you need to be aware of if your income is irregular. You need to take your unique circumstances into account. 

Just because a monthly budget with a fixed income is popular on the internet, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right method for you.

How to budget with an irregular income

First, set aside some time to look over your past paychecks for the last 12-18 months. What is the lowest amount of net income you earned? 

That’s the amount you should budget for. Income should always be budgeted conservatively. 

Because if your actual income comes in lower than expected, then you won’t be able to meet all your expenses. 

So, only budget for the lowest amount of income you’re guaranteed to receive in your bank account.

Now, if you earn more than your lowest guaranteed income, then sweep the excess into a fee-free savings account that you can easily access.

The extra income will sit in this account until one day when your income is lower than expected. I call this a revolving income savings account.

You can then use those savings to make up the difference. That way, your income will always be a fixed amount.

So, for example, if your minimum guaranteed income is $1,000 but you earn $1,200 this month, put the extra $200 into your income savings account. 

Let’s say that next month, your paycheck is only $800. You can then use that extra $200 from last month to supplement your income for the current month. That way you're still budgeting with $1,000 income. 

Now, when your income is irregular, I also recommend taking a different approach to how you budget your expenses. 

Prioritising your expenses

When you create your budget, write out your all your bills and expenses in order of priority — from highest to lowest.

Your ‘needs’ are going to be your highest priority, so write them at the top. This is things like rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, medicines and transport. 

Your ‘wants’ like eating out and entertainment would be lower priority. When your income is tight, you’ll need to cut some expenses in order to make ends meet.

Take a look at your budgeted expenses — start at the bottom and work your way up. Cut the lowest priority expenses first.

Also, try to make sure that your minimum income can cover your basic necessities. If it doesn’t then you need to look at ways to increase your income. 

But it can be done. You can budget with an irregular income, you just have to approach it differently. Myth #3 has now been busted.

#4: I get paid weekly so a monthly budget won’t work

Moving on to myth #4, another common one: I get paid weekly, so a monthly budget won’t work.

Now, with this myth, you’re actually right! When you’re paid weekly or bi-weekly, budgeting by month doesn’t make sense. 

And it’s super difficult to break or even avoid living paycheck to paycheck because you’re trying to pay monthly expenses with weekly income.

Now, if you earn a weekly or bi-weekly income, a paycheck budget is the best option. 

We talked about the paycheck budget method in episode 10. It’s the method that I personally use.

And it’s the one I recommend to everyone, especially the way that I teach it because it’s super customisable. And it gives you the greatest amount of control over your money.  

It means that you’d create a new budget for every paycheck you receive. That way, you’re only ever budgeting with money you’ve already earned.

Budgeting by paycheck also helps you match the timing of your expenses to the timing of your paycheck. 

And that’s super important in breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle. 

Because it means that you can see gaps between when your expenses are due and when the income comes in. 

The half-payment method for large expenses

Budgeting each paycheck separately helps you cover larger expenses that come up throughout the month, too. 

When you’re paid multiple times per month, it’s difficult to make large payments like your rent or mortgage in one lump sum. 

So much of your paycheck gets eaten up with one expense. Even if you manage to make the payment from one paycheck, you’ll struggle to make it by until the next paycheck. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of these situations before — pay the rent and then eat ramen until your next paycheck.

Creating a separate budget for each paycheck allows you to set aside a little bit of income from each paycheck towards that large bill.

Think of it like a mini-sinking fund, where you’re saving up for a particular goal. 

You’ll still pay your bill in one go, but you’re using income from multiple paychecks. 

This is called the half payment method. Essentially, you’re paying half of the bill with one paycheck, and the other half with a second paycheck. 

For example, let’s say you earn $1,000 per paycheck and you get paid twice a month — on the 1st and the 15th. 

Your rent is $800 for the month and it’s due on the 5th. 

You could pay your entire rent bill with your first paycheck. But then you’d only have $200 to pay for everything else until your next paycheck on the 15th.

Those 2 weeks are going to be really tough, right?

But with the half payment method, you’d pay for rent with $400 from your paycheck on the 1st, and $400 from your paycheck on the 15th of last month. 

You’ll then have $600 for all your other expenses until the next paycheck.

You’ll need to plan ahead to make sure you’re setting money aside, but it reduces the pressure on your paycheck. 

So, you absolutely can budget for weekly or bi-weekly income. But you need to tailor your approach to your unique circumstances.

#5: It’s only for people who are in debt or struggling financially

On to our final myth for today: A budget is only for people who are in debt or are struggling financially. 

This one is absolutely not true! And I’m going to guess that it came from those people who think budgets are too restrictive and never learned how to do it properly. 

Your budget it just a plan. That’s all. I don’t really understand why there has to be so much stigma attached to being on a budget. 

Oh, I’m responsible with my money. I’m going to use it to build the life of my dreams instead of spending it all on Cheetos. I must be a terrible human.

No — it doesn’t work like that. Since when did being a responsible human being with dreams and goals turn into such a bad thing?

Your budget is just a money to-do list. It’s a money-do list, that’s all it is. And you’re the one who gets to decide what your money is going to do.

It doesn’t matter if you have a mountain of debt to pay off or if you’re rolling in cash, you need a budget. Everyone needs a budget.

I said it right at the beginning of this episode but I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter if you have millions in the bank. 

If you don’t know how to manage your money, you’re going to lose it all. And your budget is just a tool to manage your money.

It helps you get really intentional about your spending so that you’re only spending money on the things you need and the things you love. 

It allows you save up for those goals and dreams like travelling the world or taking a cooking class or buying a whole new wardrobe every season. 

It enables you find money to invest so that you can make even more money on autopilot without having to do much of anything else. 

It empowers you to enjoy your life on your terms. And it lets you help those less fortunate than you.

If I told you that there was a way that you could do all of that and more, would you tell me that you’re not interested because you’re debt-free?

If I told you that the life you keep daydreaming about could be possible if you leveraged your money, would you tell me you don’t want it?

I know that money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy everything else. It keeps you sleeping indoors and keeps food on your table. 

But it also buys you something else. It buys you options and the ability to pursue your happiness, whatever that looks like for you.

It’s a tool that you have at your disposal to build a life that you love and to pursue what fires you up. And whether you’ve got $1 or a billion dollars — that doesn’t change.

Now, I’m going to leave you with a little pep talk full of passion and straight from my little heart to yours.

I know I spend a lot of time on this podcast talking about how I want to retire at 45, move to Spain and spend my days eating paella and drinking sangria.

I’ll travel all around Europe and have a beautiful home office where I write my bestselling books and my two Corgis (which I’ve already named, by the way) will come and sit with me.

Is that going to happen? Will that dream ever come true? Honestly, I don’t know. But that’s not going to stop me from trying. 

And in order to do that, I need to be in complete control of every dollar that comes into my hands. 

If that means I spend hours playing with my budget, then so be it. I’m willing to make that sacrifice because my dream is worth it to me.

I can’t live and die on this Earth without trying to make my wildest dreams come true. 

I owe it to my parents who sacrificed so much to give me a better life with better opportunities. And a chance to dream at all.

I owe it to all those women for fought for my right to vote, my right to own property, my right to build a career and start a business and create my own wealth. 

I owe it to other women, especially women of colour like me, who are stuck in unhappy lives because they need the financial security.

It’s my job to show them what’s possible and teach them how it can be done. That’s why I started Girl on FIRE in the first place.

But most importantly, I owe it to myself. I’ve worked my booty off to get where I am, to put myself in a position where I’m even able to aim for my dreams.

I owe it to myself to try and make those dreams come true. That responsibility falls on my shoulders, no one else’s. 

And being in control of my finances — which I’m sorry, includes budgeting — is the best tool I have.

But what about you and the life that you want to live: Are you willing to try, even if it means you need to learn how to manage your money and create financial success? Or are you just going to keep dreaming?

Next weeks’ episode

And that’s all I have for you Girls on FIRE today!

My challenge for you this week is to head to papermoneyco.com/checklist and download your free copy of my Ultimate Financial Success Checklist. 

If you want to be good with money, then this is where you start. 

It’s a great checklist that shows you all the things you need to do to be financially successful.

You just need to enter in your email address and I’ll send it over to you. 

The sooner you can get your foundation set and get those good money management practices in place, the sooner you can start investing and building your wealth. 

On next weeks’ episode we’re going to be talking about how to boost your wealth by paying off your debt.

We’re going to go over strategies and tips for paying off your debt faster than ever.

Paying off debt is one of the key things that needs to happen both before and during your investing journey, which we talked about last week.

It’s going to be a super interesting episode so you’re definitely not going to want to miss it.

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See you in the next episode!

Disclaimer

The advice shared on Girl on FIRE is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice. The information shared does not consider your individual circumstances. Girl on FIRE exists purely for educational purposes and should not be relied upon to make an investment or financial decision.


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