But Budgeting Doesn’t Work For Me!

You’re busy, I get it–family, work, physical health, keeping the house clean, trying to get a healthy meal on the table . . .

Budgeting seems like a huge pain–no fun at all.  You know you need one but you’ve not made the time to make one and you know it will be futile; you’ll never track your money or follow a budget anyway.

You may not even need a budget.  What?  You gasp?  And I won’t even call you a slacker for not having one!

Just pay yourself first.

Each paycheck, direct your payroll department to contribute to your company retirement plan up to the company match.

Add the percentage your company matches to the percentage you contribute.

Subtract that from the following guidelines:

Starting in your mid 20’s?  10%
Starting in your mid 30’s?  15%
Starting in your mid 40’s?  30%

Set up automatic transfers to put the difference in your IRA or non retirement investment account.

So let’s say you are 35. You contribute 5% to your company’s retirement plan, your company matches it with 2% so a total of 7% goes into your retirement.  Set up an automatic transfer of 8% of your gross salary to an IRA or regular old investment account.  You now have 15% total!  Invest the money in low cost stock index funds and don’t touch it until retirement.   If that seems too aggressive for you, mix in some short-term bonds.  That’s it–you’re good to go.

Spend the rest of your money  However. You. Want. 

If you have consumer debt or student loans, you gotta pay that crap off before you retire.  If you can pay off your house too, you’ll be in great shape–your expenses should be lower than this exercise assumed.

Can’t come up with these percentages to set aside for your future? 

What if you put your two extra paychecks towards retirement?  If you get paid every two weeks, there are two months with three paychecks.  Put those two extra paychecks straight to your retirement–2/26ths is 8% of your income right there!  You should be able to direct your payroll department to do this for you!

What if you put 100% of bonuses towards retirement?  You may be able to direct your payroll department to do this for you.

How about you put half of any future salary increases (including cost of living adjustments) towards your retirement?  Set this up with your payroll department before you see that first, bigger, check and this will seem painless.

Still can’t come up with enough?  Well then you may need a budget . . .

Y’all know I’m a freak about my budgets–been doing them since I was 18.  Here’s a link to some great templates from BudgetsAreSexy.com. And yes, budgets are sexy!

The best way to start a budget is to track your spending  for a few months.  Then set your budget based on your tracked spending.

Keep your budget simple.  I budget utilities, property taxes, auto expenses, vacations, home improvements, cell phone, gifts and spending.  Spending is my largest category–I don’t care whether I’m buying groceries or clothes–it all goes in spending.  Oh, and back when I had a job, I budgeted income.

Future you will thank you.

Your kids will thank you too.  You really don’t want to be a financial burden to them when they are working hard to raise their families and save for their own retirement.

Do you have any tricks that help you save for your own retirement?  Let us know in the comments!


Required contributions assume: retirement at 67, 40% of living expenses are covered by Social Security, expenses equal salary less % contributed to traditional retirement accounts and earn 5% net of inflation.  If you’re not convinced Social Security will be there for you, increase your contributions or pay off your mortgage.

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Author: Ms. Liz

A CPA, I retired at 51 and I am helping people create their fantastic futures!

3 thoughts on “But Budgeting Doesn’t Work For Me!”

  1. I agree with paying yourself first, and then living on the rest of your income. I set up some separate accounts for property taxes, my next new car fund, vacations, and home improvements.

    I retired earlier this year at 55. I set it up so that my bank automatically deducts amounts each month (we get paid once a month) for property taxes and a new car fund. I move money myself into vacation and home reno accounts. I also first make sure that I have an adequate emergency fund. It is separate too.

    It helps me to keep everything straight by having these separate “pots.”

    I also agree with trying to pay off your mortgage before you retire. That makes everything simpler and removes a lot of pressure.

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by!

      You make a great point about setting up funds for longer term needs. That way, you can truly spend the rest.

      And, yes, I’m definitely in the pay your house off before retirement camp. We did it well before retirement. It may not have been the best financial decision but it was the right decision for us. These choices put the personal in personal finance for sure.

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