How to avoid feeling deprived on a budget

Uncategorized May 17, 2023

How to avoid feeling deprived on a budget

By Liz Carroll, Financial Life Coach

Are you feeling resistance to budgeting? Do you think budgets are punitive or you will feel deprived living on a budget? I used to think this too until I realized I was the one making the choices on the budget.

In fact, I made all the choices – past, present and future. Every mandatory expense I had on my monthly must pay list was a choice I made at some point.

  • I chose whether to live in the more convenient yet more expensive neighborhood.
  • I chose what car I drove.
  • I chose where my children went to daycare.
  • I chose how often I ate out.
  • I chose what clothes I purchased.

A budget, often referred to as a Cash Flow or Spending Plan, is really a guideline for your money choices. Some items on the budget are for choices you made previously (ex: car loan payment). You know exactly how much your reoccurring monthly loan payment is. That is an easy item to plug into a spending plan since it is the same amount every month. Several other items are consistent monthly payments as well like housing, daycare, insurance so add them to the list. 

A budget can be done on either a yellow pad of paper, an excel spreadsheet or a free budgeting app like EveryDollar or You Need A Budget (aka YNAB).

Other items on the budget are more of a spending allowance. This is where the inner child wakes up and says, “Oh, hell no. I am not going back to the days when I had an allowance or was told how to spend my money. I am a grown adult.” However, YOU are the one in control of the allowance. YOU, my friend, get to choose the numbers.

If you are feeling deprived with a budget it is because of how you are thinking about it. You can think of it as someone else dictating how to spend your money or you can remember you made the choice. The choice of how you spend your money is ultimate freedom!

The good news is you can undo some of your previous choices or decisions. Feeling stretched because of the steep car payment? Sell the car.

Not enough money left by the end of the month? Track your food and entertainment spending for a few months. You will notice how you spend your money is a reflection of what is most important to you.

Here are some recommended budget guidelines or guiderails for financial wellness because these guidelines have you saving first before spending.

Giving / Kindness 5-10%

Savings / Retirement 10-15%

Housing 25-30%

Utilities 5-10%

Food 5-15%

Transportation 10-15%

Clothing 2-5%

Health 5-10%

Insurance 10-20%

Personal 5-15%

Recreation 5-10%

The guiderails create spending boundaries that keep you safe with money when you stay within them.

When I realized it was my choice how I spend my money on the budget and started letting my future-self have a vote in my spending choices, I experienced a major thought shift. Budgeting became so freeing to me. It was no longer punitive. I created a spending plan for today and tomorrow.

I committed to living within the spending boundaries I set. Once I started living within or under my means, spending every dollar intentionally on paper before I received the money, there was so much relief and freedom.

Today, I know exactly where I stand against my spending plan at any moment. I automated and equalized as many expenses as possible by using my banks Bill Pay option and calling my utility companies for year around Equal Pay. It takes so much less time and zero worry to pay reoccurring bills and they are set on my monthly budget.

Give it a try and let me know your results. Your future-self will thank you!

Interested in learning Liz's Mindful Money Method? Visit to learn about group class or one-to-one options.


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