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WTF is a Budget and Why the Hell Do We Need Them?

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

WTF is a Budget and Why the Hell Do We Need One?

Here it is ... the dreaded b-word ... BUDGET!

But please don't let this word scare you. In fact, let's make a promise: we will never let the word "budget" scare us.

Deal? Deal.

I was too afraid to ever ask for help on my personal finances, so I didn't make my first budget until I was 32 years old. 32 years old! And it wasn't that complicated. So then why did I wait so long before asking for help? I mean, by the time I finally did, my wife and I were already in the financial position of being burdened by over $100,000 of debt. It felt as though we were too late.

Growing up, I had always been under this impression that only sophisticated people had budgets. I was broke. Why in the world do I need a budget? What's the point? By the time I finally asked for help, I wrote my first budget out on a piece of notebook paper with a trusted friend explaining what to write down. Real sophisticated, Kyle.

What I've learned is that a budget is a necessary tool for financial success. This is going to be the roadmap for your money, your money plan. It's YOUR money. It's YOUR plan. So you get to own this "budget" thing like the boss you are. Because you are the boss of your money. So don't feel intimidated. I'll break it all down.

But before we move on, I want to address one thing - irregular incomes. I want to make it clear that everyone needs a budget, especially those with irregular incomes. I've heard many people say something like, "Well, we have an irregular income, so a budget won't work for us," or, "I work on commission only, so I can't have a budget. It won't work."

This is simply NOT true.

For all of us with irregular incomes, it is even more important for us to have a plan for our money. It's even more important for us to have a budget. And yes, it is possible. And yes, I can show you how to do it.

So then what IS a budget?

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word budget, in regards to finance, is defined as follows:

Here are some other (more human) ways to describe what a budget is:

  • A budget is where you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
  • ​A budget gives you permission to spend.
  • ​A budget keeps you focused on your money goals, both short-term and long-term.
  • ​A budget is your detailed spending plan.
  • ​A budget is a tangible representation of your "why."

Since this is YOUR spending plan, you get to decide the dollar amounts in your budget categories. You're in control. It's your money. It's your plan. So while I understand you may feel intimidated, know that it's going to be okay. Remember to give yourself some grace.

Well, why do you need a budget?

Great question.

Have you ever looked at your bank account and thought to yourself, "Where has all of my money gone? I work so hard and it feels like there's never any money in my account." This was me.

When my wife and I finally started looking at the numbers and talking about a budget, we found that we were spending over $100/mo at Starbucks and about $1,200/mo eating out. We were out of control. We had no idea where our money was going. We never had a budget telling our money where to go.

The budget is where we put the tire to the road on being intentional with our money. And if you haven't heard me talk about intentionality, don't worry...I will. Because intentionality is what a budget is.

Financial security is a byproduct of intentionality.

Without telling our money where to go, we have no control over what we spend it on because we are simply not paying attention. And we need to start paying attention. Otherwise, everyone else will get our money.


  • ​I found these statistics quite fascinating: money spent on playing fantasy football: $4.6 billion; watching the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl: $14.1 billion; eating pizza: $32 billion.
  • ​According to a study done by USA Today in 2019, Americans spend an average of $188.68/mo on "drinks." That's $2,264.16 a year on beverages.
  • ​In 2019, the APPA reported that Americans spent $72 billion on their pets. That's about $890 per pet, per household each year.
  • ​According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the average American spent $3,459/year on eating out. That comes out to $288.25 per month. (We definitely had that number beat.)
  • ​And so on...

The only reason for sharing these statistics with you is to help establish the fact that if we simply act on our impulse to spend (only acting on what feels good), and never set any parameters for those spending amounts, we will always sit around wondering where our money went.

I want you to be able to spend money on what's really important to you.

If you didn't know, my "why" was to have a family and travel.


Our debt bills alone were over $2,000/mo. And then we saw that we had been spending $1,200/mo eating out?!

Can you see the disconnect between what we were spending money on and what we said our "why" was?

This is why a budget is so important. We are telling our impulses, "No more! I have something more important that I'm working towards."

Stay Curious!



Kyle Fowler

Founder of Financial Flippers

The personal finance world is packed with TONS of information. And while it's not all bad, it's not all good. I work hard to make sure I am sharing helpful content that keeps you on track while still providing different perspectives. If you ever have questions, want to share ideas for other topics, or want to know more, shoot me an email: kyle@financialflippers.com

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