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Why Does Budgeting Feel So Tough?

Updated: Mar 5

Money can be hard, it’s true. Budgeting can be daunting, true. That’s why you have me. I will hold your hand (6 feet away due to our current pandemic situation) and walk with you step by step. You see, budgeting is my thing. I’ve been playing in Excel spreadsheets and fine-tuning my family’s budget for the last eight years. When my husband and I sit down at night to watch the next streaming sensation (did you watch Tiger King, btw? Do they live in an alternate universe?!).

Anyway, when my husband and I sit down to watch TV at night, I get out my computer and start crunching numbers, updating formulas, and [insert nerdy Excel joke]. I love this stuff. It makes me happy. It makes me geek out when I see that all my money is accounted for and in its proper place. How many of you have rolled your eyes by now? How many of you have voiced out loud… “Melissa! Get a life!”?

Here’s my theory as to why budgeting can feel like a swear word:

People assume a budget will show you how much money you don’t have. It will limit you. However, I believe a budget shows you how much money you do have. It gives you a sense of control. It guides you into a life of freedom, not constraint.

[Sidebar: In order to budget you don’t have to be an excel geek. There are literally apps for that.]

I’m not silly enough to think that budgeting is some magic potion that grants you more money. It does take some work, but it will (and I promise this!) free up some mental space so you don’t have to worry about what bill is coming out of your checking account today. Go with me on this comparison for a minute.

I'm a sign language interpreter and a financial coach. When I first started learning the concept of interpreting, my brain was so busy with everything happening that it was like an out-of-body experience.

While in the interpreting program, I remember a moment in class where I thought: I have to pay attention to the English verbally, think about the signs that match up to the meaning of what’s being said, put that into sign language, make sure my face is giving the correct grammar/punctuation/inflection, AND keep up with what’s happening in the room?!? Every ounce of processing was on my face. I'm sure I looked like I was asked to solve the hardest physics problem ever completed by Albert Einstein (and I wonder why I have wrinkles!).

But, there came a point where my brain went on “auto-pilot,” and the stuff that was sucking so much energy out of me began happening more naturally, and I was able to focus on the message. It’s like a fog-clearing miracle.

To further my comparison...

Have you read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder? In her book, she talks about this “hum” she gets when she’s writing.

Once you start to understand your money, you start to hum (no, not literally). Once you have a budget/spending plan in place, you don’t have to obsess over every little thing anymore. In the beginning, maybe it'll be more hectic. But then… when the time is right… freedom! I cannot wait to be beside you when this happens. I cannot wait to air high-five you and see that smile on your face.

Here's to you!

Melissa Mittelstaedt

Money Coach | Accredited Financial Counselor®

PSA: For anyone wondering why it would be so hard to interpret between American Sign Language and English, please know this. ASL is its own language. It has no connection to English, just like Spanish has no connection to English. Also, it has a different grammatical structure. Lastly, ASL is not universal; it’s the language utilized in the USA & parts of Canada by the signing community (which can be comprised of Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard-of-Hearing, and hearing folks).


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