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Budgets… not exactly the most fun topic around, right? However, I think that the reason people find budgets to be so restrictive and frustrating is not because of the act of budgeting itself but rather the way we talk about it.

So many approach budgeting as a one-size-fits-all philosophy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A budget has to fit your life like a glove in order to work.

What if we compare budgets to physical fitness regimens? Sure, you can try a fad diet and maybe lose a few pounds fast — but how long will the weight stay off? Probably not for long. Fad diets are hard to maintain, one size fits all philosophies. But if you adopt a whole new fitness and eating regimen that fits your lifestyle and your personality, then you are much more likely to have long-term success.

The same goes for budgeting. To have long-term success you need a holistic approach that you can maintain for years to come. So how can you find out what approach works for you? Try looking at it like your favorite fitness regimen (or the one that seems most like one you would try)!

Crossfit = Gazelle Intensity

Crossfit is a workout regimen so intense many are known to be physically ill after their first session. Crossfit pushes you to the extreme, but it’s all about giving it your all. You may not have had perfect form in your workout, but you finished and you’ll do it again and do it better next time.

Crossfit’s converts often find themselves changed people after only a few short months — often stronger than they had been their whole lives, no matter what their age. But it takes a serious commitment and a fighter mentality. If this workout sounds like something you’d like to try, then you’d probably also be a gazelle intense budgeter.

“Gazelle intensity” is a financial philosophy first articulated by Dave Ramsey that focuses on stopping at nothing to reach your financial goals. There are no breaks, no excuses. Someone using gazelle intensity to pay off debt or reach financial goals doesn’t just set a budget and stick to it, they find every avenue possible to reach their goals faster. This type of budgeting isn’t for the weak of heart but it is for those who want to get rid of debt as fast as humanly possible and have a tunnel vision focus to succeed.

Yoga = Homesteading

So what if you like the commitment level of Crossfit, but prefer to take things at a slower pace? Yoga lovers are equally as focused on committing to the process but believe in never pushing your body too far. The most important thing in yoga is to focus on your breath and listen to your body. Only go as far as your body can go each and every time and slowly your strength, flexibility, and yoga practice will improve. Each day is a new journey in yoga and a new opportunity to explore the possibilities of what you can do.

If this sounds good to you, then you might like the homesteading lifestyle. This is all about self-sufficiency. You don’t necessarily go out of your way to find every means to slash your spending or earn extra money. Rather, your savings come as a byproduct of growing your own food, making your own things, and generally creating whatever you need rather than buying it (whenever possible, of course). This lifestyle allows you to revisit consumerism and provide for yourself, to be self-sufficient, and that allows you to operate off of a lean budget leading to a potentially bright financial future.

Well Balanced Diet = Well Balanced Budget

So what if you enjoy working out (or maybe not but you at least try to work out regularly to stay in shape) and try to eat healthy as often as possible? But there are days when you’ll have a few cookies and days when you’ll skip the gym. You might keep your fitness and healthy eating priorities in the forefront of your mind, but you allow yourself breaks every so often so that you can also enjoy life to the fullest. You are probably a well-balanced dieter and thus would match well with maintaining a well-balanced budget.

A well-balanced budget is one that is focused and prioritized, but leaves room for a few slip-ups along the way. This type of budget either has money built in to make up for slip-ups — or you find a way to move around your funds at the end of the month to ensure that you still end up on track. And if you find that you’re not staying on track, then you re-do your budget so you can set more realistic goals for your lifestyle. You might not reach your financial goals as fast as someone on gazelle intensity but you do have multiple goals set out and you check in with them often to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

So which regimen fits for you? Remember, there are absolutely NO right choices here. It’s all about understanding who you are and what lifestyle you can honestly sustain long-term. You could try fitting into something because it sounds better to you, but if it’s not truly your philosophy then it won’t work. That’s the beauty of having a variety of budgeting options! No matter what you decide, you can use budgeting tips and ideas for saving money to help you on your journey. Once you find the financial philosophy that fits your life like a glove, then you’ll be sure to reach success.

Image: Motoyuki Kobayashi

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