I just learned about what a budget is and how to make one, however, I simply do not see myself doing one or even like doing it.. I feel it is simply not exciting.

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    What exactly do you mean with "financially free"? That could mean anything between "getting out of a crushing debt spiral" over "living a regular life without having to worry about money all day" to "become financially independent by generating enough passive income so that I quit my day-job".
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 9:36
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    The only people who find budgeting exiciting make a lot of money from being exicited about budgeting. Being financialy free is defined as having enough money to cover your expentidures. So just make sure to make more money than you can spend. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 12:09
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    @JTP-ApologisetoMonica Just related. The other question is a blanket question asking for the advantages of budgeting. This one is asking a yes or no question: Is financial independence possible without budgeting? Remember this post; there is no need to try to close every question that is kind-of-the-same-but-really-different than another.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:13
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    I'm sorry, but this is very confusing. Your profile says you're an expert in international stock loans, but you just learned about what a budget is?
    – Etheryte
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 18:09
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    Recommend this get closed as spam. The OP's question seems to assert lack of knowledge about finances -- but their profile has an extensive ad "as an expert" for opportunities in money, liquidity, penny stocks, international stock loans, etc. etc. This is spam. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 19:22

9 Answers 9


You sure can, under 2 conditions:

One: You generally live a frugal live and naturally do not spend more than you can. I have seen people like that - any decent job means significant surplus.

Two: You earn REALLY good money and simply have no need for a budget. Unless you go really crazy, i.e. a monthly income of 20,000 USD (preferably with good raises every couple of month) will handle all your needs with plenty left over. Many star athletes are in this area while they work, except many go crazy on the spending side over time.

Normal people? Yeah, you better watch your expenses. This is like exercising - you need to do it, and whether you like it or not - the world does not care. "I can not see myself" is nothing more than showing a lack of discipline, and the result of those are never funny, but sadly all around to watch.

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    20000? Monthly? With raises? You don't need that much to handle all your "needs"... unless you live in San Francisco or Manhattan maybe. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:24
  • Yeah. That said, this is what I did get back when I was still doing IT consulting. it is not an unrealistic number for quite a lot of people. I know guys who build a house in half a year - without taking a credit.
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:58
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    But that is the point. I never bothered doing a budget, except thinking twice before buying a sports car ;) I just did whatever I wanted - not talking "ok, rent a jet", but - restaurant? WHO CARES. So, if your income is seriously higher than your needs, then you do not need budgeting. ESPECIALLY if it is good enough that you handle things like "retirement" without thinking.
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 15:03
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    Ah, but then - where you live is also YOUR decision, is it not? Why would I live in an expensive hellhole instead a place where it is enough to emplo a butler?
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 19:48
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    @Fattie $20k (USD) per month is radically above typical household income in the US. Whether or not it is "nothing" relative to your goals and immediate needs will obviously vary from person to person, but to say that it is "nothing" in general suggests a severely skewed perspective, and one which most visitors to this stack are unlikely to find useful or clarifying.
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 20:17

It is easy to imagine how growing a successful career will allow you to be 'financially free' (whatever that means for you), without worrying about 'tiny details' like budgeting. Especially for someone just coming out of college, used to sleeping on a futon with a couple of roommates, living cheaply and happy as can be. "Why, I could live exactly like this and still be happy, so if I start making an extra $x per month when my career gets going, I can just keep putting away the extra, and I could probably retire in 5 or 10 years!"

Why this doesn't often work out, is 'lifestyle creep'. As you get a little more income, bit by bit, you will have the opportunity to spend more money as well, and as you take those opportunities, that becomes your 'new baseline' of 'living simply'. Before you drove a 15 year old rust bucket car, but when it breaks down and you have a stable job, chances are pretty good that you get something 5 years old, or perhaps even brand new. And as soon as you do that, you're never going to shop at Bob's Better Buckets Used Car Shop again. Likewise getting used to buying expensive ingredients, or forming a daily Starbucks habit, buying nicer clothes, buying gifts for a girlfriend, buying your new wife some jewellery, expensive honeymoon, then comes diapers, daycare, karate, books, toddler clothes, babysitting, a nice night out at a very expensive restaurant 'because we hardly ever go out anymore', bigger house in a nicer neighborhood with the good schools and 3 car garage for your car, your wife's, your son's, your twin daughters, etc. etc. etc.

Keeping a budget is a way for you to insert a recurring reality check to your spending, to make sure that you are on a path towards the long term financial goals that are important to you. You don't necessarily need to do a line by line accounting to get some amount of value from it, but it seems from your question that you would prefer to quietly close your credit card statement and just pay the balance without peaking inside. That truly is a recipe for disaster, even if you land NFL-levels of success. Even millionaires can go bankrupt, when they spend like billionaires for a few months.


Sort of. If you spend less money than you bring in, and you save and invest the rest, then you will have an increasing net worth and an increasing amount of potential passive income from investments. At some point, this will increase to the point where it can cover your expenses for the rest of your life.

Without a budget, though, it will be impossible to know when this is, how far away it is, and whether you have achieved it already.

Depending on your risk tolerance and your willingness to be flexible with your spending when needed, you can safely spend approximately between 3%-5% of your wealth each year, and it should last you at least through a typical 30-year retirement, or potentially forever. No budget means not knowing whether a safe withdrawal rate (whether you are very risk-averse and will only live on 2%, or are OK spending 5% or more) will be sufficient to live on.

You also can't estimate how much you need in total. If you need $40,000 per year, you should be OK with a total in the range or $800,000 to $1,333,333. Let's say you have $1,000,000, and suddenly you lose your job. Is it time to panic? If you live off of $25,000 per year, then no, you could never work again and you're fine. If you spend $70,000 per year, though, then you need new income or you will eventually run out of money (sooner rather than later if you lost your job due to a recession/depression and your investments are also losing money just as you come to depend on them for income).


I would say it is impossible to be financially independent without budgeting. This is because financial independence has two components. How much are you projected to spend over your current life, and how much income will your assets produce.

Without a budget it is impossible to know how much income you will need for either the short or long term. Depending upon the nature of your assets, it may be difficult to predict their income without a budget.

History is filled with people who made extraordinary income and wound up broke (e.g. MC Hammer, many sports stars). ESPN has a documentary outlining sports stars who made a lot of money and ended up with nothing.

Now I heard it say that a budget has to be to the exact penny. Perhaps this is true when you are in a tough spot financially, but you don't have to do this for the rest of your life. About so much for groceries, entertainment, auto insurance, etc...

My wife and I, as part of our monthly budget meeting, also do a review of our net worth. This is pretty fun as your assets grow. We track it and reviewing the history is fun as well.

If you intend upon being in a long term relationship with someone I feel that budgeting is even more important. Budgeting priorities express your values as a couple. Do you spend an larger amount on cars or travel? Will you spend a lot of the full TV package or more on live events? How important is a large clothing budget?

These are the kind of things that my wife and I discuss during our budget meetings.

  • "I would say it is impossible to be financially independent without budgeting." - OBVIOUSLY wrong. Imagine a normal person. Working in a profession where he works up his income. Suddenly - he wakes up to 50k USD monthly income. If he decides to go on normally with his life (i.e. not going crazy) there is absolutely ZERO need to budget anything. And you do not need to know how much income you will need. You spend what you need, there is PLENTY left end of the month. The trick is not going crazy - which is literally your whole example list.
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:25
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    @TomTom "The trick is not going crazy" - but without any kind of budget, it is impossible to know what is "crazy". For some, purchasing a $100 meal is crazy, while for others, a $100k car wouldn't be. The definition of "crazy" will involve a comparison of your potential expenditures and your income, which is just a budget by a different name. You're basically saying you don't need a budget, so long as you don't spend more than you make, but you can't even evaluate if you've accomplished that without some kind of comparison of income/expenditures (i.e. a budget). Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:20
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    "but without any kind of budget, it is impossible to know what is "crazy". - no, it is not. I never did keep a budget. I just looked at what I did spend in a month and as long as it was not going nuts, I was ok. Not crazy means maintaining your lifestyle without going nuts (i.e. buying a ferrari because you are now a middle manager). If your income is good enough and you just keep living ls lightly better than before - you just do it.
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 15:09
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    And my whole point is that I did NOT track my expendigures. I just buy whatever I want. THe only thing I look at, in price, is VALUE (i.e. if I see a nice place for a holiday, I ask myself whether this really is worth the price, or whether it is overpriced). But I do NOT "budget". I just buy whatever I want. The only time I look at the iincome/expendigure lines is when my backoffice gives me my tax form.
    – TomTom
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 19:18
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    "I would say it is impossible to be financially independent without budgeting." I too disagree with this statement. Some people need a budget and perhaps even the structure of a Robert Kiyosaki or a Dave Ramsey. Others, like me, need none of that. I'm financially independent with no concern about ever running out of money and I have never done a budget, even 40 years ago when my wife and I had nothing, clipped coupons (sometimes buying extra papers) and going to stores that doubled or tripled coupons. Rent, utilities, food and other essentials first, and if anything left over, saving. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 22:39

It's an age-old issue: being rich is probably a lot more fun and exciting than becoming rich. Certainly for most people.

It's definitely possible to reach financial goals without intensive budgeting, but I think that a better question is "how likely is it that I can become financially free without budgeting?". That question has a less promising answer. It's usually easier to spend money than to obtain it. I think that your question is similar to asking "can I get an A in my multivariable calculus class without ever studying?". For some people the answer will be yes, but not very many. For many, perhaps most people, their chances of success are very bad without doing the work.

I feel that, for most people (including fairly highly-paid professionals) budgeting is helpful in two main areas: it helps you think about finances over the long term, and it helps you track whether or not you are moving towards your goals. There are other benefits as well, but those are the core two for me. It is very, very easy to undervalue the future, and for many it seems to be unintuitive how much money there is to work with over a period of 10 or 20 years.

I will also suggest looking into different kinds of budgeting. My original budgeting system when I was just starting my career was very easy and practical, though not as efficient as it could have been.

  • I had three bank accounts (two checking accounts and one savings account), and on payday my pay was deposited into a checking account.
  • I would immediately transfer enough to cover my fixed expenses (rent, utilities, etc.) into the second checking account, an account which I used only for paying those bills.
  • I then allowed myself $100-$200 per pay period (depending on how much I was earning, how much I had in unplanned expenses, etc.) in spending money and put whatever remained into the savings account.

It's a very easy system and doesn't require much attention or effort after determining how much you need to cover fixed expenses. I only had to look at my accounts twice each month (to make the transfers between accounts after being paid), and I could be confident in spending my "disposable" income. There are better (read: more efficient) budgeting systems, and there are more things you could add on to this one to make it better (which I eventually did, before moving to a more involved budgeting approach), but the results of this small amount of effort worked very well for me.


You can totally strive for financial independence without spreadsheets and a concrete sense of what your cash flow is. What you would do it set up automatic payments into a savings account (or debt). Hopefully that account it is some kind of financial product that you could buy ETFs or whatever kind of investment you prefer.

It would take some trial and error but since you don't want to do the arithmetic, just have a sense of what could get you by month by month and force yourself to save.

Something that makes budgeting more exciting for me it's that it offers the opportunity to check in with my financial goals. To me it is not a negative thing, it's exciting to see your debts disappear and your savings increase. If you do it well it feels like you gave yourself a raise :)

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    It is only "exciting" to see your debts disappear if you had too much debt in the first place. And believe me, after the first 30 or 40 years, "seeing your savings increase" is about as exciting as watching paint dry as well.
    – alephzero
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 18:33

No matter how much or how little money you have, you can end up in trouble if you don't monitor your cash flow in some manner (see, for example, the typical fate of lottery winners). But there's no reason that you need to have a budget per se.

A budget is a forward-looking plan for how to spend your money. It can, indeed, feel quite constraining, and thus I've never been willing to live that way myself.

The alternative is to track your spending habits instead and make sure that your lifestyle choices leave you spending less than you take in on average. To do this, you need to have more money available to you than you do if you're living on a budget. In particular:

  • You need at least a few months of expenses in liquid form.
  • You need to earn significantly more than your "normal" expenses.

Together, these two give you a "cushion" that gives you space to correct for problems without accumulating debt, even when you may not see an emerging problem for several months in your accounting.

If you are able to live this way, then you can have the financial freedom to simply not think about your choices most of the time, as long as you stay within the general rhythm of your chosen lifestyle and adjust your lifestyle if you find your savings creeping downward.


This question is a wind-up but it is a commonplace that people with high incomes, end up in the doghouse.

It is so common that there are literally whole categories of reality TV shows "Sports starts who made 100 million and now have nothing", "lottery winners on the Dole" etc.

It's not what you make, it's what you save.

The honest and accurate answer to the sense of the question is, you must budget.

End of story.

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    But there are people - and I'm one - who simply have no desire to spend money like those sports stars & lottery winners. I bet if you looked, you could find some, it's just that NOT running through a big pile of money and winding up broke is not a good subject for a reality TV show. (In fact, a quick search for "athletes who don't go broke" just turns up stories about those who do.)
    – jamesqf
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 3:56

Yes, you can become financially free without budgeting, and without having unlikely amounts of financial "good luck."

The trick is simply to avoid situations where other people are spending your money and you can't realistically stop them from spending it.

For most people, the most expensive things you can "own" are not executive jets, superyachts, or even luxury houses. They are other people. Specifically, your partner, and even more expensive, your children. And divorcing a partner is likely to be even more expensive than continuing the relationship. But that doesn't stop people making the same bad choices twice, or even more times, in their lives.

Keep those items outside of your "budget", and you will never have to bother with micro-managing your finances from day to day, or from decade to decade.

Of course there is only one "small" problem here - and that is that most people don't consider that "personal relationships" have much to do with "finance". Not until the situation has got out of control, anyway. Just don't go there!


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