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Of Bench Pressing And Budgeting...

Today, I want to talk, just briefly, about bench pressing and budgeting.

I bring up bench pressing, not because it’s the most useful lift; it’s not. (Everyone knows that’s the squat.) But the bench press is the most popular, especially if you’re a high school boy. Now, what does that have to do with budgeting? A little bit actually.

Because The Weight Can Be Crushing

Our developers recently had a meet-up at the YNAB house, and I found out that one of them—I will not say who—doesn’t do any “fun money” in his family budget.

I was a little bit alarmed by that, and this is why: When you’re bench pressing or budgeting, it can feel very heavy. And as you come down, you’re going to say, okay, the objective is to get the weight back up, get my arms locked out. With budgeting, the objective is to just feel like you’re making progress. Whether it’s that you’re staying below your spending targets or you’re reaching some goals, whatever it may be.

And we evaluate our success as very black and white. If they don’t feel like things are good, then budgeting doesn’t work. And for the vast majority of the population, unfortunately, they think budgeting doesn’t work. But they are trying to lift that weight all on their own.

Everyone Needs A Spotter

If you think back to your bench pressing days, and you’re lying there under the bar and you just can’t get the weight up—it’s rough—and then you get a spotter. And everything feels entirely different. (I won’t tell you about the time there was a spotter hanging over me and they dripped some sweat from their sweaty hair and it landed right on my upper lip during my lift. We won’t talk about that; it was traumatic.)

You can feel like you absolutely cannot move the weight—you physically cannot move it—and then the spotter can come with just an index finger or two and that’s all you need.

With budgeting, it’s the same thing. I think that the fun money, just a little bit of breathing room, whether it is $5 a month, $50 a month, or $100 a month—that little bit of help can make all the difference.

Julie and I used to each get $5 a month for fun money. That was all we could afford, but it was all we needed to feel like we had some freedom. That extra bit where you don’t have to be super accountable, where you don’t have to be super tightfisted, where you can just say, you know what? I can blow this money on whatever I want! I don’t have to tell anyone about it; it’s mine. That little bit of just ‘whatever money’ makes all the difference.

Be In It For The Long Haul

My plea to you is to find a spotter if you don’t have one. Carve out a little bit of free money, to give yourself some breathing room, so you can and will stick with budgeting for the long-haul. We want you to feel successful and stick with this, and in order to do that, you might need a spot from time to time. I know I do.

This was officially the first, and probably last, lesson about bench pressing and budgeting. But I think there is a lesson here:

If you can’t wait until next week for more whiteboard wisdom, subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you have a question or an idea you’d like us to address in a future Whiteboard Wednesday episode—we’d love to hear from you: email@youneedabudget.com.

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Of Bench Pressing And Budgeting...