How to Budget Like an Olympian

Visualize your Budget

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in Budget

What do the Olympics and budgeting have to do with each other? More than you might expect. If you’ve followed FiscalGeek for any length of time you know that I’m an enormous fan of zero based budgeting and let me tell you why. You are laying down your money course down before the months race begins so that when that big rolling jump called car insurance hits in the middle of the month you will be ready. Watch most any Olympic event ahead of time and you’ll see the competitors visualizing themselves on the course or race ahead of time. It works in both cases I’m proof of that, well at least for budgeting anyways but I’m not a bad skier thank you very much.

Visualization is the act of creating an intention or mental image of your desired outcome ahead of time. You literally insert yourself into the event imagining the crowd, the environment, the physical feeling of successfully completing your task. Perhaps if you “intend” yourself into your budget you can visualize yourself taking that vacation you’re saving for or living a life without credit card payments. Use your budget to visualize your success a month or even a year down the road. It’s going to take time for most of your financial goals and seeing some success early can go a long way to reaching your end goal even if it’s only in your head. If you can continue to budget month after month and see your money helping you to reach your goals you’ll have the confidence to set bigger and bolder goals the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Practically Speaking

So what does this look like in real life? It’s creating your monthly budget of income vs. outgo perhaps even creating categories or sinking funds for variable items like car repair and healthcare. The key is to not let any course corrections throw you off your overall budget. Moguls show up all over the place but since you’ve visualized yourself winning already you carve right over the top of it rather than being thrown into the fence in a crumpled heap. It took me 3 months of solid work, rework and tweaking before we had a livable, workable budget but it was time well spent and now since we have experience a fair amount of success with our budget it takes no more than a couple of hours a month to keep on track.

Use your Budget as Motivation

You have the opportunity to see what your money can do for you in a month or even a year if you extend out your planning that far so your future dreams seem more likely and you’ll be motivated to sustain your effort. This works, it’s just not for Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller it’s for those who want to see themselves win.

Photo courtesy Kevin Pedraja

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Hedy @ penny for my thoughts 2010/02/23 at 7:06 am

Great (and timely) view of budgeting.

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Kevin@OutOfYourRut 2010/02/23 at 8:55 am

Good metaphor to set the mood. Budgeting isn’t very exciting and we need motivation to start it and keep it going. Not always easy, but always worth the effort. Maybe you could re-post this piece, say weekly?
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Good Retirement Planning Should Include a Low Cost/Debt Free Lifestyle =-.

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paul 2010/02/23 at 10:05 am

What do you mean budgeting isn’t exciting? It’s go time!

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Angela 2010/02/23 at 2:58 pm

It is true, we really need to try to visualize all the bumps and turns that could come up through-out the month. We aren’t always the best at that. But, I know it’s a good budget when I can look at the calendar and say, hey this is teacher appreciation week at the kids’ school, better set aside some extra money for gifts. At least, now that we are out of debt, the little things are coming out of the money we would have put in savings, instead of the money we would have used to pay our bills!

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Christina 2010/02/23 at 7:10 pm

Budgeting is really a challenging game, hopefully I win the game. I haven’t figured the best thing thing to do, I’ve been experimenting stuff which I read from different articles and still I have no luck. I still overspend….this time around I hope it works. thanks.

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Jason @ MyMoneyMinute 2010/03/04 at 8:15 am

Budgeting can become passive so easily. This is a good reminder to ‘visualize’ the month ahead, not look back at month’s end and wonder if you stuck to your budget. Thanks.
.-= Jason @ MyMoneyMinute´s last blog ..Wine On A Budget: Oak Creek =-.

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