Embracing the H.A.H.B.: Half-Assed Household Budget

Embracing the H.A.H.B.: Half-Assed Household Budget

Brittney Morgan
Mar 23, 2017
(Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck)

How many times have you heard people talk about their budgets (or even seen their meticulous bullet journals and spreadsheets) and thought about how maybe you should have one of those, but like, ugh, math and all that effort? Same.

If a comprehensive household budget feels more like a mythical creature than an achievable goal, you're not alone. But here's something important to remember though: It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Money comes and goes, and budgets don't have to be rigid—in fact, it's probably healthier to be flexible with your spending. You don't have to track every single dollar that enters or leaves your bank account, so long as you know what you're working with.

Basically, if you have to choose between half-assing it or not budgeting at all, go for the half-assed household budget. It's all about having no rules, and most importantly, no time taken away from your day-to-day life to think about money constantly (seriously, that kind of meticulous oversight may help your bank account but that doesn't mean it's doing your headspace any favors). You'll add just enough structure to your life to know what you're working with, but you don't have to track every penny—just, you know... guesstimate.

Basically, if you have to choose between half-assing it or not budgeting at all, go for the half-assed household budget.

First of all, you're half-assing it, so you can make up the rules however you want. But some suggestions: Make a note of major expenses that happen consistently every month (you know, rent, utilities, loan payments, insurance, etc.) because you know you need to pay those and you know they don't really change on a regular basis. Things like food and groceries, clothes and personal items, anything that changes all the time—don't worry about those as much. All you need to know is how much you're making, and how much you have left over after the constants are taken out. Divide the rest up as you please and as you go.

My version of this was creating a quick spreadsheet years ago (I love Excel—it does the math for you, so thankful for formulas!) and now I just plug in my paychecks and bill estimates whenever they change to see about how much I have left over. I only track things like rent, utilities and student loans, and I use whatever's left over for groceries, entertaining, and everything else—I make sure I don't spend too much, but I don't go overboard on the math and I rarely look at the actual spreadsheet. Otherwise, I check my checking account and credit card balances online every morning just to make sure nothing weird is happening, and I live my life. (This is especially important because I have always had major spender's guilt, so the HAHB is my happy medium.)

You can HAHB however makes sense for you, whether that means keeping a running note on your phone of your estimated bills and you balances so you can make sure you have enough to make a purchase on the go, or even just doing some quick adding and subtracting on the back of an envelope. Remember: No rules—just do what feels comfortable.

You don't need a set structure unless you want one, but even if you do, the point is not to nickel-and-dime every expense and purchase. Know what you have and what you need to spend—you'll still be able to save up money and/or pay off debts—but allow yourself that extra flexibility with everything else. It's minimal effort for people who don't currently budget at all and can make a big difference, and it's some extra freedom for those who do and need a change.

Embracing the HAHB means taking on a more relaxed attitude about money and giving yourself wiggle room... just, without hurting yourself financially. Here's to half-assing it!

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