Why I Never Budget

In contrast to many personal finance bloggers there’s a reason why I never budget.

Budgeting reminds me of the time I limited my daily calorie intake to 1800 using intermittent fasting with a strict eating window. I ended up weighing all my food on a kitchen scale and calorie counting literally everything for an entire month.

It made lifting weights twice as hard, my on call shifts were hell and I was ruminating about food non-stop. I even started binge-watching 10,000 calorie challenges on YouTube and was probably only a few steps from a eating disorder…

Okay I exaggerate but budgeting is basically the financial equivalent of calorie counting so that every penny you spend has to be accounted for. Imagine having a weekly grocery budget of £50 and not being able to buy the item you really want. At this point someone will point out that they can still buy it but then why bother budgeting in the first place?

Having said that, budgeting does have a special place in personal finance.

Budgeting is an excellent way for beginners to realise where their paycheck is going every month. But for intermediates and experts who are well on their path towards financial independence, I’d recommend against budgeting. The reason is simple: great financial success is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you’re constantly counting pennies and pounds you’ll eventually wear yourself out and lose track of the bigger picture. Each day we only have a finite amount of willpower so there’s even more reason to save it for important things.

Given the choice of being able to comfortably save £800 every month or push for £1,000 with real difficulty and borderline obsession with money, should you opt for the latter?

Obviously not because how long will you last in the second scenario? Remember that success isn’t perfection – just persistently walk in approximately the right direction and if you’re not there after a few years you’ll be very close.

P.S. I learned everything I know about finance from this book, this book and that oneamongst many others. For a more extensive list, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at rory@ukdoctoronfire.com. If you prefer learning through listening use this link to earn a free audiobook of your choice by signing up to their 30-day free trial. Simply cancel with the click of a button if you decide later on that the service isn’t for you, no questions asked.