Turning your budget from torture into freedom

I’ve always struggled with the idea of living my life according to a budget. It’s not that I was too lazy to make one or too frivolous with my money to stick to it, but to me budgets seemed like fad diets, a plan for failure.

I’ve always struggled with the idea of living my life according to a budget. It’s not that I was too lazy to make one or too frivolous with my money to stick to it, but to me budgets seemed like fad diets, a plan for failure.

I’ve always struggled with the idea of living my life according to a budget. It’s not that I was too lazy to make one or too frivolous with my money to stick to it, but to me budgets seemed like fad diets, a plan for failure. I swore them both off, and if you’ve read my blogs you’d understand why, I’ve made chasing freedom (in all aspects of my life) a daily goal.

I think we can all agree, from either personal experience or witnessing our friends turn into melting witches, that no one enjoys being on a diet. They’re limiting and even if the lbs. are falling off you’re too bitter that you haven’t been allowed to look in the direction of a carb to even celebrate the weight-loss success. When we limit ourselves to what we can and can’t have we feel restricted, which causes us to slack off or just give up.

I found that restricting myself from certain foods was actually driving me to eat more out of frustration. I decided to make a nutrition plan that didn’t restrict me from anything. I found myself becoming more aware of the foods that made me feel good and felt proud every time I choose to eat them. But of course I needed the wiggle room to indulge in New York pizza and Thanksgiving stuffing with buttery mashed potatoes. It was a lenient approach that gave me freedom to make decisions that felt good in the present moment, and then I no longer wanted to rebel.

Based on my success around food, I realized I could change my negative mindset around budgeting if I approached it in a similar way. It was a simple shift that gave me enough motivation, and even excitement, to sign up for an online budgeting tool.

I ultimately discovered that my budget keeps me focused on my goals. I have found freedom in saying “heck yes” to buying new booties because I allotted myself that splurge each month. And I felt proud when I recognize I would be happier if I used the money I was spending on lunch twice a week (at a crappy deli) towards organic foods and dark chocolate treats at Whole Foods.

I want to encourage you to find fun in budgeting. Don’t let the pressure of creating and sticking to a perfect budget deters you from making one. I’ve been playing around and tweaking mine for a month, and I expect that as things start changing in my life and career the numbers will inevitably have to move with it. But it has served as a great assignment to get really clear about what I value spending my money on most, and that feels liberating.

Chelsea Castner

About Chelsea Castner

Chelsea Castner knows how important our 20’s are for laying a foundation of values and guiding principles for life. That decade’s pivotal decisions can make us or break us. Maybe it was growing up on a farm in New Jersey with three brothers, but facing and talking about the “tough stuff” is in her blood. That attitude allowed her to tackle financial challenges of being single, sharing an NYC apartment with two roommates, balancing a social life, all while taking her career up a notch and planning for future goals. As a Brand Strategist at New York-based marketing company Just Ask a Woman, Chelsea’s interviews with hundreds of women across the country (in person and even on their cell phones while at the checkout counter) have made her a go-to source when it comes to understanding women. Due to her strong curiosity to always know why she created Just Ask Y, a think tank to help Generation Y women grow to their full potential by examining new trends, forward thinking ideas and personal subjects. She looks forward to posting candid, proactive and practical advice that will help millennial women start building long term relationship with their finances.
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