I remember when my sister first went through FPU and started planning for her expenses using a budget.  I asked her how it was going one day, and she said, “It’s really different.  It’s a great feeling to be able to fill up the gas in my car without worrying about it, because I planned for it!”

In that one answer she had expressed the paradox that budgeting actually gives you control, peace, freedom.

It almost doesn’t make sense.  How can submitting to a plan, limiting yourself, making choices, and actively deciding not to do whatever you want give you more freedom?

Here’s a number of ways:

1) It gives you the freedom to say “No.”

“No” is a powerful word, but it can be one of the hardest things to say.  “No, I won’t be donating to your cause at this time… No, I can’t help you out with that bill… No, I won’t be taking advantage of that crazy awesome deal you’re offering me.”  It really is no fun, but when you know what your limits are, NO becomes easier to say.

We all certainly want to give.  We all certainly want to take advantage of crazy awesome deals when we see them.  But a budget helps us achieve clarity on if we can afford to do those things right now.  Saying “no” right now allows you to say the best, fullest “yes” later.

2) It gives you the freedom to say “Yes.”

Nancy and I went out to a really nice dinner last weekend.  It wasn’t cheap.  One of us had the idea that day, we looked at our date night envelope, and we both enthusiastically said “YES!”  And when they asked if we wanted to see the dessert tray, we said “YES!”

Budgeting puts you in the driver seat and allows you to indulge, guilt-free, in the things you’ve chosen, ahead of time, to prioritize.  We prioritized date nights, acted on that priority with our budget, and had the freedom to say “yes” when the perfect night presented itself!

3) You gain freedom from worry and fear. 

When you have a plan for your money, you don’t have to worry if you’re spending food money to pay the light bill.  You don’t have to worry if this dinner out is going to make you short for your rent check.  You don’t have to fear that if you pay this large bill that’s due, will it sink your finances for the month?

Just like my sister said, she had the freedom to fill up her vehicle without worry and fear.  Knowledge is power, friends!

4) You get the freedom from being a victim of your circumstances.

When I speak to people who have struggled to implement some sort of game plan in their finances, sometimes I hear a victim mentality in their explanation of what’s happened.  “Well, we had this, and we had that, and then this happened, and that put us behind…”

I have complete empathy and understanding for folks who have been through rough circumstances.  To successfully come through those circumstances, one has to choose to take control at some point.  Budgeting is the ultimate example of choosing to take control control over your money.

Empowerment is one of the greatest things you can gain from getting on a plan.  I hear it all the time, when people start getting on a plan they get a sense of empowerment like they’ve never felt before.  Instead of life happening to them, they’re going and “happening to life.”

5) It gives you the freedom to do what is really most important to you. 

Is daily Starbucks really more important to you than your kids’ education? Are random iTunes/Redbox/Amazon/Target purchases more important than going on that dream vacation with your spouse for your 10th anniversary?

If you really dug deep and asked yourself, the answer would be a resounding “NO” for most of you.  Budgeting gives us freedom from the little unintentional expenses that build up over time and keep you from doing what you really want.  Having a plan for your money gives you the freedom to really focus your energies and finances on your true priorities.

So it’s a paradox, but it’s true.  Budgeting really brings freedom.  Don’t fear doing it, because it will set you free in your money!

What other ways can budgeting give you freedom?