Budgeting, saving and investing for a brighter financial future

A budget is not a diet

By Sylvain Bouffard,

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A budget is not a dietIt’s interesting to note how often culinary metaphors crop up in the world of budgets and personal finance. We say we’re going to “tighten our belts” and “trim the fat,” although no one complains if they’re “rolling in dough.”

People find it easy to equate following a personal budget with following a diet. And not surprisingly, the idea of sticking to a budget, just like sticking to a diet, suggests to us a fundamentally unpleasant prospect: deprivation.

No treats, no going out, no fun. Does being healthy financially have to mean feeling frustrated?

If you listen to some people, you might think that. According to the results of a survey published in La Presse on October 3, 2011, one-third of Quebecers between the ages of 25 and 44 associate saving for retirement with deprivation. Just about as appealing as cutting out desserts.

Obviously, with that sort of mindset nobody is going to feel any inclination to put their finances in order. And that’s where we go wrong, because a personal budget shouldn’t be an obstacle to overcome; it should be a tool that brings us closer to the things we love.

In fact, while a budget has to be completely realistic in terms of sources of income, obligations and responsibilities, it absolutely must take into account what you enjoy doing today and what you dream of doing tomorrow. As far as I know, guilt is not a good motivator for managing your finances in a healthy way.

Do you like cake? Then budget for some! Give yourself at least the chance to be able to choose fun things in addition to the things that are necessary. I know from experience that cake tastes even better when you can say to yourself: “I really earned this!”

Knowing when and how to have fun can be a good way to fatten up . . . your wallet!

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