We know why you don't read stories about how to live on a budget: They just aren't sexy!
Well, you're wrong. Here are the multiple ways budgeting is really just like having sex. Good sex. Hot sex. All kinds of sex. Sex, sex, sex. Do we have your attention? Budgets are just like sex in these ways:
1. Sometimes, you just have to find the right partner(s).
Sure, we've all been there. The desire is strong, the spirit willing, but still we just can't seem to get to that ever-so-elusive finish line. Maybe ― just maybe ― the problem isn't you. Perhaps it's that you are with the wrong partner, or maybe even spending too much time trying to achieve your goals alone.
Consider forming a money buddy group.
A money buddy group is just an informal club of people who share financial advice with each other. It can be focused on things like sharing discounts and deals, or it could be based around collectively researching and sharing investment tips. You could even form a support group just to encourage savings, something to help hold members accountable for socking away money for the future while they live well on a budget today. Start small and grow membership slowly, advised Trent Hamm, founder of The Simple Dollar, a personal finance website.
"It might be tempting to add lots of people to a group like this to get more input, but if a group becomes large, it becomes harder to manage," Hamm wrote at U.S. News & World Report. He suggests keeping it primarily full of people who know one another and to skip those who tend to get angry or disruptive.
Just remember, this is your group, and it can consist of anyone you want to include. But pick wisely. Selfish partners are pretty much the last thing anybody needs.
2. There is a difference between a one-night stand and a meaningful relationship.
Yeah, you really need to figure this one out already. Acknowledge who you are and what you really want, says every therapist in the world probably 10 times every day.
Financially speaking, you need to determine wise spending from wasteful spending. The above money buddy group can help, but so can programs like Clarity Money. It's a free app that cancels the subscriptions you aren't using, looks for ways to negotiate your bills to a lower rate, and tracks what you spend to ensure you stay on a budget. It also has an option to help you invest.
The app uses artificial intelligence and data science to get to know you and your spending habits and says it strives to deliver a "highly personalized experience."
Now admit it, doesn't that sound better than someone who can't remember your name in the morning?
3. Things are always better when you go slow.
Tease, bring to the edge, don't ― DON'T ― stop and, OH, GOD ― just stay the course. The reward at the end justifies the journey when you go slow and steady.
A good savings strategy to budget for is one in which you build your nest egg slowly and steadily. Divert a portion of your paycheck into your savings account each time you get a direct deposit. Look into micro-savings and micro-investing, which are pretty popular "pain-free" ways to increase your savings. You could try Chime, a free mobile-only bank that, among other features, allows you to round up every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and automatically plunk the difference into your savings account. Or Acorns, a low-fee app that will round up what you spend in your current checking account and invest the difference.
4. Talking is essential.
Open communication is key in any successful relationship. Be honest and convey what you desire. Know it, speak it, own it.
This is especially true for budgeting and saving money. You must know what you want to accomplish, voice it, and make sure it happens.
Digit is an app that analyzes your income and spending and finds money it can safely set aside for you. Every day, Digit will try to move some money from your checking account to your Digit savings account. Should you want to use your savings ― say, for a big purchase or vacation ― you just send Digit a text and it transfers the money back to your checking account. Open dialogue works every time, although personally speaking, we do like to get surprise flowers on occasion.
Just remember that instant gratification can be fleeting and sometimes success comes from being able to balance things properly.
5. Less can be more, but timing matters.
It's Friday night after a hellish week at work and you're exhausted. The kids are distracted for the next 10 minutes with a video and you lock eyes across the room: "You wanna?" your partner mouths. No, you don't wanna, but for the good of the country and your relationship, you jump on the opportunity — and open the budget app.
For your love life or your finances, there is no better time than the present. It's never too soon or too late to get a handle on your household expenses so you can get your personal finances organized. And financial planners advise you to start saving early and watch your money grow exponentially through compound interest.
Compound interest is when you add the interest you earn to the principal amount of your investment. As time goes on and the principal amount becomes larger, interest will provide an even greater annual return.
For compound interest to matter, you need to start saving and investing early. And FWIW, there is no reason young children need to stay up late on Friday nights.
6. Ultimately, you want to protect yourself.
Avoid investing in anything too risky or unsafe with the money you're going to use in your retirement. The general rule of thumb is that the older you are, the less tolerance for risk you should have in your investments. The reasoning is, when you are younger and make bad choices, you still have years more of work ahead of you to make up your losses. When you are older, that time evaporates.
Protecting yourself means diversifying your holdings. Don't invest anything you'll need within five years, like money to pay college tuition or the down payment on a house. And remember, stocks are a long-term investment in which you ride out the storms and don't sell things in a panic. Believe in your choices, romantic or financial.
But to start, of course, you must begin with a sound budget. Consider You Need A Budget, where you never know who you might meet in the app's relationship forum, or PocketGuard, the app that answers the real question everyone wants to know: How much can I spend? There's also Albert, an app that wants to be your boy-toy ― I mean, get his hands on your money ― or actually just set you on the path for budgeting success. Yeah, that.