Budgeting is a great way to track your income and expenses and get to your goals. But the traditional techniques of budgeting are also boring and tedious. It requires patience to consistently track every tiny detail of your life. And one wrong move makes us feel guilty.

So is there a better way to go about it? Indeed! Let’s look at some stuff that you typically won’t find in a budgeting manual.

The Story

Start with something very simple

  1. Tracking your net worth

If you’re constantly fretting about how that Rs 300 you spend on coffee a few times a week is affecting your budget, you need a new trick. Let’s forget a restrictive budget where you’re noting down every little spend and focus on your net worth instead.

Let us explain. The first thing you do is jot down everything you own like bank accounts and investments. Then take out everything you owe — loans. Is it in the green or red? Don’t worry if you’re starting out your career and have things like an education loan. Your net worth will be negative. But the fun part? Seeing your net worth grow into the green and then keep growing from there.

Think of it like a financial scorecard that shows your progress. You don’t have to do it every single day. Maybe once in a quarter will do just fine. But the objective here is to get a snapshot of your financials and focus on the big picture i.e How do you make sure you keep growing your net worth by 20–25% every year. This helps you stay financially alert but also doesn’t bog you down with the pressure of keeping a tab on every single expense you incur over the course of the month.

2. Rely on accountability partners

If you’re one of those people who has always included “going to the gym” as a New Years resolution but never got around to it, chances are that you’re probably doing the same with your budgeting exercise. The reason? Because it’s boring to do it alone. You need a partner-in-crime. Someone to motivate you. Someone who’ll kick down your door if you hit the snooze button on your alarm.

But if you pick a friend who’s a “splurger” as an accountability partner, be prepared to end up crying on the toilet seat when they nudge you to break your money rules. Instead, you need someone who shares a similar money mindset. They’ll be like your personal trainer in the gym constantly motivating you to do better. And it works because you don’t want to let the other person down! And that’s a powerful motivation.

You could even make this whole exercise fun and set goals together. Like saving for that holiday to Goa that has been on both of your minds.

3. Be mindful about your spending

Hold on, don’t scoff at this technique just yet. Mindful spending means spending with purpose. Every time you take out your wallet or add a thing to your shopping cart, ask yourself if it aligns with your long term goals. If you need it ASAP, sure, go ahead and make that purchase. But if it’s not something that you need right now, just take a moment and ask this simple question — Is this something that you can do without?

Alternatively, you could also take some time out this weekend to match how your spending aligns with your values and goals. What do you want to spend money on? And why do you want to do it? Once you get to this bit, you create a positive feedback loop every time you spend on something that aligns with your values, instead of a negative emotion associated with a restrictive budget.

And all of a sudden, you’ll start seeing savings accrue in your bank account. In any case, all these three techniques don’t require excel sheets and excessive notetaking. So you can start with this if budgeting is too hard for you.

Until then...