I recently overheard a guy talking a little too loudly at the library saying that he didn’t follow a budget because he’d never been a rule-follower. He wasn’t gonna let anyone tell him what to do with his money. In his mind, budgeting was clearly not for him.

It took everything in me to not speak up and interrupt the conversation. Clearly this guy had it all wrong.

He wasn’t wanting to give up his control. In his mind lack of control = budgeting. When in fact budgeting = complete control over your finances. He was giving his money power over HIM by not budgeting.

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Budgeting = Control

You see, Budgeting is the act of setting up categories for your finances and putting a dollar amount that you have available for that category as a guide for the month. You create these categories based on what you spend your money on, including everything from your shelter, vehicle expenses, food, and utilities. But splurges, travel funds, savings, entertainment, and anything else you can dream of can also be a part of any budget.

Many non-budgeters feel this limits their spending or makes them a prisoner to their spreadsheets, but you are indeed the one in control. When you don’t have a budget and you spend aimlessly, are you really in control? In my mind, frankly, no!

Budgeting is the step that I encourage immediately after you’ve taken a while to track your expenses.


There is a spending range in each category that you can calculate when you track your expenses by category. Going through what you’ve spent, mark those items that are NECESSITIES versus those things that are WANTS. Creating the lower end of your spending range in a budget category is created by adding up all your necessities (needs) you bought. This is the lower end of your spending range. Then you add up all expenses (necessities plus wants) and that becomes the higher end of your spending range. The space between these two amounts ($needs—–$all expenses) is where the true magic happens in a budget.

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Let me explain with an example. Let’s say that I have an Amazon category in my budget. I buy some shirts for my son, cleaning supplies, TP, some fun pens, and earbuds. I didn’t NEED the pens or the earbuds. In fact, I already have 2 pair of airbuds and 3 plugin earbuds and every pen I own is a favorite. They were splurges. Not something I needed, and I could definitely do without.

My total spent at Amazon was $140. Total spent on the items that were actual necessities was $90. So my range of spending for Amazon based on this month is $90 to $140. The difference between what we spent on necessities and what we spent altogether is $50. This is the magic!! It’s what I have coined the FREEDOM MARGIN.

($90–freedom margin–$140)

Please don’t miss this!!!

It’s SO SIMPLE, but at it’s core it is what will bring you financial freedom and will help save you from living paycheck-to-paycheck!

The Freedom Margin is where you are able to make the cuts in your budget. It’s the area in each category where you can save each month to help build your savings account up. It’s the area in your life and in your budget where you cut back on spending on the wants that you don’t need and you start focusing on the expenses that will actually provide you with what are necessities.

In my example, $50 doesn’t seem like much, but if you start cutting the fluff in each of your dozen or so categories, the savings begins to pile up and your spending can easily turn on a dime from being out of control to being YOU IN CONTROL!

The Freedom Margin is your ticket to control, financial freedom, and getting to say yes to so much in life that you’ve had to say no to because you were living life on such a tight rope.

Nothing is set in stone

So when you create financial categories for your budget, create categories that encompass your bills but also things you want to spend money on. The important thing is that you continue to tweak the amount in each category as you learn what is a realistic amount for you to live comfortably. Cut back in each category a bit each month and get closer to the lower number in your range as you’re able to. The more you can do this consistently, the more you will be able to have options in your life. Know that some months this will be easier to do. Life is just that way.

I frequently borrow from my grocery bill to pay for my Eating out bill. It’s a give and take (literally!) Some months have more bills and some you’ll be able to have more extra money than you ever dreamed possible. Ebbs and flows are natural and very much expected.

Give every dollar you make in a month a job. Assign every cent somewhere in your budget. Make sure that every dollar is represented.

No money should be left over. Choose where you’re putting any leftover money. I would recommend that if you don’t have $2-$3k in an emergency fund or your non-mortgage debts paid off, that that’s where you initially work on placing that extra money at the end of your budget. The more you budget and discipline yourself, the more your savings and debt pay off will be taken care of, and the more your level of freedom will grow and grow.

A bright future is ahead for you!

When your debt is paid off and you have the security blanket of an emergency fund (even if it’s just a small one initially), it is such an amazingly free feeling to know that your extra money is yours to do with as you like. You are taking control of your life and you can put it in a Roth IRA or save for a family trip or save to buy a house or a new car. Financial wellness makes for a healthy life on so many other levels. Don’t believe me? Put it to the test!

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Take back your CONTROL!

Start taking back the power that only financial freedom can give you. Let tracking and budgeting your money give you the key that opens the door to a future where you’re free to spend money freely, save money, retire, and provide for yourself and your family! The peace of mind that stopping the paycheck-to-paycheck spending cycle can give you is unlike anything I can explain. That guy at the library was clearly not right. Stop living under the false notion that budgets are restrictive and full of rules. Let them give you freedom to save, spend, and take back your control! 💛

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