Why a ‘Spending Plan’ and not a ‘Budget’

Three years ago when I began my own financial recovery process, I was introduced to the concept of a spending plan by my own money coach. As she explained to me in our introductory session that our work together would involve setting up my own spending plan, she told me something that stuck with me forever. She explained that she deliberately uses the term spending plan, rather than budget. “A spending plan“, she explained, “although like a budget, has a totally different energy around it.”  

Underlying Emotional Needs

And when you think about it, it’s true. Just focus on the word budget for a moment and see what comes up in your body. If you’re like most people, you’ll feel a constriction around the word. In fact, the biggest fear that most new financial coaching clients have when beginning their work with me is that their coach will tell them they have to go on a budget and stop spending money.  

“A spending plan”, she explained, “although like a budget, has a totally different energy around it.”

Budgets, like diets, feel restrictive. We have the sense that they are there to tell us what not to do. They are there to boss us around, scold us for doing wrong, shame us for not getting it right. Like diets, often budgets don’t work in the long term. Why? Because they don’t address the underlying emotional needs of the person. They restrict and deprive and as soon as one feels restricted and deprived, the reptilian brain goes into panic mode and starts stockpiling in order to safeguard against “starvation”!!! So, budgets, like diets, may work in the beginning, but after a while, more often than not, they don’t. And what’s more, all of that restriction and deprivation can cause the pendulum to swing back the other way even farther, causing all of your new-found “good” habits and behaviors to unravel.

Spending With A Plan

A spending plan, like an eating plan, however, feels expansive. Just the name alone implies that you are allowed, even encouraged, to spend and invest in yourself. The whole energy around it is different. A spending plan is permissive, yet intentional. We are not just spending for the sake of spending we are spending with a plan. The key to a good spending plan is simplicity, clarity, and awareness. We’ve got to be able to clearly see where our money is going in order to make conscious pro-active choices while we have time to make them.

This is where a spending plan is similar to what we traditionally think of as a budget. A spending plan, like a budget, allows us to get a clear picture of how we intend to spend. An effective spending plan and money management system includes a process for tracking and adjusting. When you track and adjust on a regular basis, this allows you to both consciously connect with your money and adjust and respond to the reality of your financial decisions in real-time, while you still have an opportunity to make different choices.

Freedom and Confidence

As a financial coach, one of my very favorite aspects of working with a new client is helping them to learn to create their own spending plan. Sometimes the process is very simple and straightforward and we are just giving them a snapshot of what their future financial life may look like. This is especially important as our clients are preparing for a divorce and trying to envision what life will look like for them on the other side. A spending plan can be tremendously helpful for designing their new life, determining what they want that new life to look like from a financial perspective.  

Other times, we work with clients to create a full money management system where they learn new money management skills and create their own personalized, flexible spending plan that they can regularly use to track and manage their money. In this case, they learn how to plan, track and adjust on the practical side and they learn to recognize and understand their sabotaging money behaviors on the emotional side. The freedom and confidence that comes from being able to clearly see and feel in control of their financial picture are truly inspiring and empowering. A spending plan is one of the key tools in finding your own financial freedom. 

Your Trusted Partner

Whether you’re contemplating a divorce, have already started the process, or are far into the proceedings, do you wish you had someone to share with you the inside scoop on how to save money, time and emotional energy on your divorce?

We’re here for you. We help you consider your options, arm you with practical information, and strategize with you how to navigate your divorce. Feel free to get in touch with us, as we are always available to help!

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