top of page
Post: Blog2_Post

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Budget

Let's take it back to 2008 - when I was graduating high school just in time for the worldwide financial crisis.

I wrote several scholarship essays to receive financial aid that would have been valuable in any economic climate but was extra precious given the state of the global market. So I went off to college with my brand new scholarship money... and proceeded to blow through all of it.

And I don't mean I responsibly spent my money on books and dorm and what-have-you... oh no, I blew my money on eating out, paying for others to eat out, and lots and lots of partying.

My mom's an accountant and, when she found out, she held an intervention of sorts where there were lots of tears, snot, and hurt pride (all on my part), but I left that little meeting with a shiny new budget, and a newfound understanding of what living within your means meant.

And since then, I've iterated on that budget year after year to create a true financial dashboard that I still consult regularly to this day to make some of my biggest financial decisions so, with that said, in honor of Episode #10, today we're talking about 10 reasons to fall in love with my favorite financial tool of all... your budget.

We'll cover:

  • The budget template I swear by

  • 10 reasons to love it

  • Why I'm convinced a manual old-school budget leads to more financial success than any budget app on your phone ever could


What are three areas of your life in which you always wish you could save? I'd wager they're: time, money, and stress. And your budget? It saves you all three.

A lot of people hear the word 'budget' and groan. But I invite you to reframe the word budget in your mind... start thinking about it as your financial dashboard, and everything will start to shift.

So with your budget a.k.a. financial dashboard - now all of a sudden, everything is in one single place, which simplifies your life... No more digging around to see how much you spent on this or that, there's no more logging into your bill portals to see if your monthly bills increased - nope. You've got all this information at your fingertips in a single view. This alone saves you time and stress.

As for saving you money - it's now so easy to see a full list of all your regular expenses... and your not-so-regular ones. For your regular recurring monthly expenses, seeing everything in one spot helps you quickly decide which of them you no longer need or use.

Remember signing up for that stay-at-home-date-night-box subscription during covid? Same. But, luckily, having this listed in my budget made it super simple for me to realize when we no longer needed it, so we could cancel and save that money every month.

For your not-so-regular expenses... getting into the habit of inputting these each week will automatically start training your brain to spend less.


Do you ever think about your finances and just feel this tightness in your chest - even if you're making a good salary?

Well, there's this thing called "free-floating money anxiety" - and that's probably what you're experiencing. Free-floating money anxiety is typically a symptom of simply not knowing where all your money is and/or goes.

I've been there and tried every money app available, but invariably found them to complicate things even more while not giving me the extent of clarity I was seeking... plus, it always felt like they were un-linking with my accounts, ultimately causing more stress and confusion because I never fully felt like I could count on them.

So I built my own template. It's old-school, straightforward, and reliable - and I made a shortcut on my phone's home screen that takes me directly to it so I could have that app-like experience.

I've been using this template for 10+ years, and any time I feel stressed over money, I open it up, take a look, and find peace in the clarity of knowing where every dollar's going.

And I bet if you had a resource that you could use to see where all your money is and goes, you'd feel that way, too.


If you're sitting there thinking that you'd rather use an app because you don't like math, not to fear because my template does the math for you.

To be clear - I have two versions of my budget template and one of them is a printable PDF version that you can use to put pen-to-paper if that's more your style and, in it, I explain how to do your calculations, but my preference is the automated-spreadsheet version... and don't let the word spreadsheet freak you out, it's not scary.

Inside the spreadsheet, I have comments throughout that guide you on how to set up the sheet specific to your financial situation, which boxes to use versus which boxes not to touch because I've built in automatic formulas for you, and how to replicate the entire thing for next month.

Once you input your numbers, the sheet will automatically do all the math for you so you can easily see what you're spending, where you're overspending, and what you can save.


Some mobile apps allow you some customization, however, in my experience I haven't found one that truly lets me categorize the way I want in a way that feels easy, and allows for a simple way to add additional expenses into categories that I choose.

In my spreadsheet template, it's simple to add a new category or a new item to an existing category, move things around, remove items, and more.

It's simply a matter of adding a new line or removing one.


One of the most powerful things about my template is that there's more accountability built in. It's built in a way that once a week you'll sit down to enter in your spending for the previous week, rather than just using an app that auto-pulls things from your credit card and sends you notifications about expenses that look off.

Sure, that might seem easier... but ask yourself: is it more effective?

There's something about getting in the habit of setting aside 15 minutes a week to look at your money and physically input a few numbers manually in a place that is NOT an app. There's an app for everything, right? So think about it...

Something in your mind starts to shift when you treat your finances differently than everything else. It becomes a priority and not just one more notification on your phone vying for your attention among the sea of other mobile apps.

You can automate a lot of your financial strategy, but in my opinion and experience, when you try to do this with your budget by relying on a mobile app, you're doing yourself a huge disservice.


There are mainly two parts to your budget template - your regular recurring monthly expenses like your rent and your water, electric, gas, any monthly subscriptions, etc. - basically anything you know for sure you'll be charged for every month.

And your non-regular, non-recurring monthly expenses... which I like to call your "fun money" - so think of these as expenses for, say, eating out at restaurants or that random concert you went to or a plane ticket you bought.

And after you set your budget up the first time, what's great is that when you're ready to create your budget for the next month, you just make a copy, and the majority of your budget (i.e. your regular recurring monthly expenses) will stay the same.

All you'll need to do is delete your 'fun money expenses' and a couple of other variable expenses (in other words, recurring expenses that vary depending on how much you use, like water or electricity), and voila! Your budget is ready for another month.

As for that small handful of expenses you'll need to alter, these are marked within the template, easy to spot, and quick to delete.


Your budget template helps you make important decisions; namely decisions like "Can I afford this?" or "How long until I can afford this?"

Whenever Cory and I are thinking of signing up for, let's say, a new subscription, before we sign up, I'll consult our budget, add the potential new expense, and the sheet will auto-calculate to tell me if we can afford it every month.

When it comes to our 'fun money' you'll see in the template that, at the start of the month, you'll see exactly how much 'fun money' you have each week - and it'll be the same amount for all 4 weeks of the month.

But let's say you overspend your first week - the sheet will auto-calculate to let you know, based on your overspending, how much 'fun money' you have left in Weeks 2, 3, and 4 - and this will guide your decision-making as a result.

If you've got a savings goal for something big like a trip or a down payment, your budget template will easily show you how much you can afford to save each month, and consequently, how long until you'll hit your big savings goal. If you want to hit your goal faster, your budget template can help you to decide which expenses to cut back on OR how much extra income you should be seeking (say, in the form of a raise) so you can put more toward your savings goal and reach it even faster.


I remember what it was like to work in corporate - and especially in tech - where every year you knew another round of layoffs was coming. I remember one company I worked for used to do their layoffs right before Christmas every year which made the entire holiday season and the weeks leading up to the holidays extra stressful for everyone, but especially upsetting for those affected by the layoff.

But what I found is that by using my budget template to guide my spending and saving decisions, it was much easier for me to quickly build up an Emergency Fund of 3-6 months' worth of my living expenses... and I cannot tell you the amount of stress this magically lifted off my shoulders - especially when it came to annual layoffs.

I'm not sure if you're like this, but as someone who still battles imposter syndrome, every year I worried that I'd be affected by layoffs. But the moment I hit my Emergency Fund goal and I knew I could survive without a paycheck for 3-6 months, I stopped caring about layoffs altogether because I knew I'd be financially okay for a full 1-2 quarters.

Even if it took a couple of months for me to find a new job, I knew I could find something within 3-6 months. And having the Emergency Fund, based on the information from the budget template, was key.


In general, it's wise to store your money in places (or, a better word, assets) that return at a rate higher than inflation. But to do that, and to do it most effectively, you first need to know how much money you can dedicate to putting into income-generating assets.

I'll give you one guess on what can tell you: it's your budget template.

Knowing exactly how much money you're bringing in versus spending each month allows you to easily see how much you can afford to save, or better yet, invest into those income-generating assets.

I doubt this is the last time we'll be hearing the words recession, inflation, and record layoffs. But don't let that discourage you because this budget template can help you take control of your money today so you can thrive in the future, no matter what the world is doing.


Not to oversimplify personal finance, but if I had to say in 30 seconds or less how to create personal financial freedom it would be this:

  • Fill out my budget template

  • Use the budget template to cut expenses until you're making more than you're spending each month and save the difference

  • Consult the budget template to see your monthly living expenses and continue building your savings until it's equal to 3-6x that

  • Once you've hit your savings goal, take the amount you'd been saving each month and now, every month, put that amount into investments

So all that's to say reason #10 to fall in love with your budget is that it's the first step toward total mastery over your money.


So I've found the best way to stick to a budget financially speaking is to simply get your budget out and LOOK AT IT REGULARLY - better yet, USE IT regularly... but if you're at least pulling it up and looking at it, chances are you'll use it.

Even if you go over your spending the first few months, getting into the habit of regularly looking at your budget and inputting your numbers will naturally help you begin to start spending less.

It's just something that happens in your mind. You want that positive reinforcement of hitting that goal of not overspending... so for the months when you overspend (and let's be realistic, there will be months where you overspend - especially in the beginning, but even years into it) - don't let those months discourage you... let them inspire you to keep consulting your budget week after week to hit your spending and savings goals.

Here are my top 3 recommendations on how to stick to your budget and remember to look at it when you're first starting to make it a real habit in your life.


I work on my computer so my budget is the first bookmark on my bookmark bar (and I have my bookmark bar set to always be showing right there at the top of my screen ). I also have it set as a shortcut on my phone's home screen, but this can get lost among other apps so, for me, the bookmark bar is best.

And, truthfully, when I was first starting, I'd even use a sticky note with the word BUDGET on my mirror and my coffee pot to help me keep it top of mind. I didn't put the sticky note on my fridge for the same reason I don't suggest using phone apps... there are just way too many things stuck to the front of my fridge; the sticky note would get lost.

It needs to be somewhere I see it... really see it and NOTICE it.


Set a recurring weekly reminder on your phone for Friday afternoon or Monday morning to input all your 'fun money' expenses from the past week (so, remember, these are things like eating at restaurants, going for drinks, taking an Uber - anything that isn't a regular recurring monthly expense).

I suggest doing this weekly and not monthly because weekly will help more quickly ingrain this as a habit and you can knock it out pretty quickly, whereas if you put it off to do it monthly, you're more likely to skip it because it's not happening as regularly, and it'll take a lot longer because you'll have a lot more to input.


I know this isn't going to be a fan favorite and I'm not saying to do this forever. But when you're first starting, this is immensely helpful. Here's why: receipts capture cash purchases in addition to credit card purchases, and if you keep all your receipts in one place (I suggest a basket next to your computer or wherever you'll be filling in your budget each week), it makes the weekly budget input process so easy.

It's a matter of pulling each receipt from the basket, inputting it into your budget, and throwing the receipt away. Compare this to having to log into bank accounts or credit card portals and scroll all around to find expenses (especially if you have more than one bank account or credit card) - plus, if you use cash, you'd probably miss out on capturing those cash expenses.

Regardless of how you pay for things, you'll typically always have the option of getting a receipt. It's the common denominator across all purchases, so just hanging onto them until you input your budget each week makes it easier until you get into your groove of spending within your budget each month.

And for any purchases online, ask to be emailed a receipt, or if that's not an option, you can go ahead and input those purchases straight into your budget as soon as you make them, or write them on a piece of paper to put in your receipt basket, or keep them on a single note in your phone. Whatever you choose - organization is key, especially in today's digital world.

To recap:

  1. Put your budget somewhere you'll 100% absolutely see it regularly

  2. Set a recurring weekly reminder on your phone to input your expenses from the last week

  3. Keep all receipts and use them in your weekly expense input sessions


I realize this sounds like a lot... why would you do this when you can just download a finance app that will tell you what you need to know?

There's a reason that, despite the countless money apps on the market, people are still overspending month after month after month. And I believe that the money apps essentially do too much of the work for us, AND they get lost among the hundreds of other apps and notifications we have on our phones.

There is something to treating your finances differently. There is something to the more manual, old-school approach that I use. It's an accountability thing; showing up each week and manually putting in your numbers. It makes it more real, more personal - and it definitely makes it more top of mind... which is exactly where you what your financial health to be.

There's a reason it's so easy to spend money on Amazon or online in general... clicking a few buttons to make a purchase removes you from what's actually happening... which is money, that you may or may not be able to afford, being removed from your account. And I feel it's the same with finance apps... it removes you too much from the process. It's too impersonal when money is inherently a very personal thing.

So take the time to have a relationship with your finances. And, truthfully, it doesn't take that much time. After the initial set-up, you won't be spending more than 15 minutes max each week inputting your receipts.


If you're serious about taking control of your money, ditching your financial stress, and building a financial situation that allows you to quit worrying about your paycheck or layoffs or what happens if this or that - having a budget that you consult regularly is the #1 way to do it.

As I've said before and I'll say again: this single financial tool is what I credit to absolutely being the foundation of my financial success. I've used it for over 10 years and I still consult it multiple times a week.

It's my North Star in anything financial we do - whether it's working toward a savings goal (like an Emergency Fund or down payment), or simply looking at it quickly to see if any of our bills are particularly high in one month versus another, or using it to cut forgotten expenses like various subscriptions we rarely use.

Even for bigger decisions - like something we're going through right now, which is what price to rent our house out to be profitable after all our expenses - this is the exact tool I use.

If you don't like spreadsheets - that's OK because I've created a PDF version... but I encourage you to give the spreadsheet a try because, once you get the hang of it, it's more customizable, easier to duplicate month after month and it does the math for you. 've included comments throughout the spreadsheet to tell you exactly what to do.

Whichever version you choose, just be sure to take action.




bottom of page