Budgeting isn’t necessarily the most fun thing in the world to do, but for more than a quarter of Americans, it’s actually more painful than getting a tooth drilled. 

This surprising statistic comes from a survey conducted by Capital One in which 26% of Americans said they’d rather get a cavity filled than create a yearly budget. 

Planning how to spend your money shouldn’t be worse than an uncomfortable dental procedure — and it doesn’t have to be. Even Americans who dread the budgeting process can find a way to make it more pleasant by following a few simple tricks. 

A woman speaking with a dentist in a waiting room.

Image source: Getty Images

Figure out a budgeting approach that works for you

Detailed budgeting can seem painful if you feel constrained by strict limits on your spending or if you really don’t want to account for every dollar. 

The good news is, you don’t have to follow the traditional exhaustive budget method if it’s something you dread doing. You could opt instead for a 50-30-20 budget, which is both simpler to make and simpler to follow. 

With this type of budget, you limit spending on things you need to 50% of your income, you save 20%, and you get to spend the remaining 30% on whatever you want. Make sure your bills don’t add up to more than half of your pay and transfer 20% of income to your savings account automatically each month. Then you can spend the rest of your money without worrying about your budget. 

Shortcut the process by tracking spending

If you decide to follow a different approach, it can be difficult to make a budget from scratch. This is because you need to track where you spend your money on and how much to allocate for each different category. 

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You can make the process easier by tracking your spending for 30 days at first, either manually or using an app. This will give you initial numbers for different spending categories, and then you can just tweak the areas you want to cut in the future. 

Not only will this approach to budgeting make things faster it also ensures you end up with a budget you can actually live on since you aren’t making unrealistic projections. 

Leave room for fun in your budget

One reason budgeting feels so painful is that the focus is typically on limiting the amount you spend on things you enjoy, such as dining out or paying for entertainment. And while you probably do need to find areas to cut, budgeting doesn’t always have to be about stripping the joy out of your life. 

Instead, you should decide where you get the most value for your money. You can do this by thinking about what brings you the most joy and making sure you prioritize this type of spending. If your budget enables you to spend on things you love, the process won’t feel quite so unpleasant. 

Change your mindset about the budgeting process

Finally, instead of seeing budgeting as painful but necessary, try to change the way you think about it. Budgeting isn’t something you have to do, but something you get to do so that you can accomplish cool things with your money.

When you budget money for financial goals, you get closer to accomplishing them. This isn’t something to dread; instead, it’s worth getting excited about because your budget gets you closer to retiring rich, getting out of credit card debt, buying a house, or paying cash for a big vacation.

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You don’t have to dread budgeting more than a trip to the dentist

Just as a filling is essential to your dental health, a budget is important for your financial health. If you’re one of the many Americans who’d rather cope with a cavity than plan how to spend money, hopefully these tips will make the budgeting process a whole lot less painful going forward.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.



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