Can we make budgeting empowering, instead of a financial diet?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Many people don’t like budgeting as it feels restrictive.

The traditional way of budgeting is categorising your spending into Needs v Wants. Needs are the things you can’t get by without, such as a place to live and food to eat. Wants are things that are nice to have but not absolutely necessary, such as entertainment or gym memberships.

Some people recommend you use the 50/30/20 budgeting/spending rule. 50% of your income on Needs, 30% on Wants, and 20% on reducing debt or saving.

But lets see if we can put a more positive spin on it.

  • There is a saying:

A budget tells your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.

  • Looking at your spending in different categories;
  1. The Past – paying for things you brought/did in the past,
  2. The Present – funding your current lifestyle, and
  3. The Future – Accumulating to create a future income.


  • Looking at your spending as Needs v Strategies to acquire those needs.

Everything we do with our money, whether we’re paying a bill, investing in a fund, or buying something on impulse, is an attempt to meet a fundamental human need.
Our needs are universal and shared by all people everywhere (for example, sustenance, security, connection, esteem, autonomy, and meaning), but the strategies we employ vary from person to person.

The financial strategies we use are heavily influenced by our upbringing, personal experiences, personalities, and beliefs. For example, someone who believes that debt should be avoided at all costs may put themselves through college one course at a time to avoid loans. Someone who believes some debt is manageable might opt to take loans and work part-time while studying full-time. Both people are meeting their needs for sustenance and security by investing in their human capital, but the strategies are very different, as are the total costs in money and time.
That’s because money, and what we do with it, is closely tied to our deepest hopes, dreams, aspirations, and identity and held in our subconscious brain. For every category of needs in

Maslow’s Hierarchy, there are countless strategies we can employ to meet them.
If you feel uncomfortable about spending or not spending, ask yourself, “what is the underlying need I am seeking, instead of the emotion being expressed”. The emotion is a symptom. The underlying need is the cause.

Once you have a sense of the needs that are in your subconscious, you can reduce tension by responding to the underlying need instead of the emotion.
When we allow ourselves to be curious about our thoughts and reactions, we can use the situation as an opportunity to learn more about how we think and feel, even about money. Also after you are aware of the underlying emotional need the spending is meeting, you can strategise other ways to meet that need.

This technique is not easy. It takes time, practice, and lots of trial and error, and it likely won’t solve issues that have been hardwired into your brain.
Call me now to discuss how money coaching can help you understand your emotional responses to money or spending issues. I can help you identify your money mindset and overcome some blocks you may have with managing your money. Or take the money quiz on my website to get an indication of your money archetype or personality which may be driving your money decisions.


Money Wellness successfully nominated the Money Mentor program to receive a grant from the Financial Planning Associations Future2 foundation to extend their financial literacy program into secondary schools in Melbourne’s inner west in 2023. See grant video.

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