January 3, 2022
There’s no better way to feel like a mature adult than budgeting.
The planning, the structure, and the routine of proper budgeting create a sense that you’ve got this. You’re in control. You’re a proper grownup.
But there’s another feeling that budgeting can conjure—the dreaded “bleh”!
That’s because budgeting seems like a ton of work. You have to set goals, track your income, record every time you spend money, create a spreadsheet, download an app, be consistent—doesn’t sound like much fun.
And there’s that nagging question—what if I blow it? What if I overspend? What if an emergency pops up and I can’t cover it? What does that say about me and my character?
It’s understandable—intentionally starting a healthy habit requires focus and work, but it also opens the possibility of failure.
Fortunately, there’s a two-step hack to get you addicted to budgeting in the New Year…
Step 1: Track spending
Step 2: Relentlessly reward good behavior
Why does this method work? Because it leverages two things that your brain loves—progress and rewards.
Step 1: Next time you go shopping, make note of how much you spend. Use a budgeting app on your phone. (It helps remove mental barriers from the tracking process.)
Then, challenge yourself to spend slightly less next time. Track the results.
Before long, you’ll begin compulsively tracking—and reducing—your spending. Why? Because you’re seeing progress. You feel like you’re moving in the right direction. And that feels incredible.
Step 2: But you can further intensify your budgeting habit. Don’t just track your progress—celebrate it!
When you make a dent in your spending, reward yourself. Indulge in something you love. Grab dinner with a close friend. Or simply pick up a candy bar on your next shopping trip. Whatever it is, give yourself a high-five!
At first, this will feel like a rush. You’re allowing yourself to celebrate a victory, and that recognition is elating.
But over time, it will become routine. You’ll automatically start doing the right thing because your brain expects a reward. You’re proactively reinforcing healthy behavior, creating a powerful habit.
So to recap, this is how you should budget in the new year…
Relentlessly reward good behavior
Try it out for a week and see how you feel. If you feel good about it, keep it up! If you don’t stick with it, that’s okay. Failure is part of the process. The key is to keep retooling your approach until the habit sticks.