Neighborhood Credit Union

Budgeting—It’s All About Mindset

Art studio with graffiti and paintings 

You’re sitting in the middle of your living room with your computer on your lap, papers strung out all over the couch, and your head in your hands. You’re getting more and more frustrated because you feel like you’re not seeing any progress after trying “countless strategies.” Throwing up your hands and quitting sounds like the only option right now.

Sound familiar? A few of you are probably nodding your heads because you’ve been there before. This is how many Americans feel when working on their budget. Unfortunately too many do end up quitting entirely.

So, what gives?

We’re not here to tell you that budgeting is easy because we all know that it can be a huge pain sometimes. We wanted to propose a new mindset to try the next time you feel like tackling your dreaded budget.

How can you do that? Think of budgeting from an artist’s perspective.

Own it

No two pieces of art are the same. Artists use their projects to express themselves and put their own unique style into every brush stroke, key stroke, and color choice. You can do the same thing with your budget.

Your financial habits are not the same as your colleagues’ or your neighbors’, so be creative and tailor your budget to your own lifestyle. Researching articles (like this one) about budgeting is great because you can learn the core principles before branching off to make it your own.

You may really enjoy exercising, so budgeting your gym membership fee might be a unique aspect to your budget.

No two pieces of art are the same. No two budgets should be the same. Own it and make it unique to you.

Visualize your goals

When a painter, writer, graphic designer, or architect begins a project, they first visualize what they want their finished product to look like.  These come in the forms of sketches, blueprints, and outlines. The point here is that these artists have more than just a passive thought of what their goals are for their project.

If you approach your budget with a vague idea of what you want to achieve, you’re going to end up frustrated with your head in your hands. Think about what you want to accomplish with your budget. What’s your end goal and how do you want to get there?

Start by visualizing what your “finished project” will look like. In other words, set an end goal for what you want to accomplish with your budget. Once you see where you want to go, now you can sketch out how you can shape your budget to help you get there.

Like an artist, you can’t start a project without a vision.

Don’t be afraid to make edits along the way

Paintings, books, buildings, sculptures, and designs don’t get completed in a day, and there are usually changes made during the journey from inception to completion. If you’ve dabbled in art, design, or writing, you know the process we’re talking about. It’s something you can’t avoid.

Accepting that you won’t get it right the first time is easier said than done, but it’s a reality we all have to face, especially with our budgets. You can personalize your budget and have your goals laid out in detail, but if you believe you’re not going to have to make changes along the way, it’s only going to lead to you giving up.

Think of when you add to your savings account. You might want to contribute $200 every month, but then life gets in the way and you can only contribute $50. When that happens, don’t get frustrated. Instead, make adjustments for the months to come to get you back on track.

Just like an art project, your budget is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. If you see something that’s not helping you reach your end goal, make some changes to put you back on course. You might even find more efficient and effective practices you didn’t know about.

So when you want to give your budget another go, try thinking like an artist.