Why You Need A Bullsh*t Budget

What's is a bullshit budget? Want more money for things that make you happy? If you're looking for budgeting tips, click through and learn how to save money on things you hate.

I plop down on the deck with a freshly-made vodka gimlet in one hand and a print out of our bank statements in the other. I take a long sip and start working my way through our budget, line by line.

“Food. Utilities. Insurance. Bullshit.”

Now, I’m not saying that food, utilities, or insurance are bullshit. I’m saying we have an actual line in our budget labeled ‘Bullshit.’ 

We have a Bullshit Budget and IT IS TRANSFORMATIVE. I think you should have one, too.

What’s a Bullshit Budget?

A Bullshit Budget is money that’s specifically allocated to reduce the bullshit in your life. What? Yes.
Everybody wants less bullshit in their life. So why not build ‘bullshit-removal’ into your budget? Click To Tweet

Everyone’s idea of ‘bullshit’ is different. Maybe your ‘bullshit’ is grocery shopping and yard maintenance. Maybe it’s driving your teenagers everywhere and cleaning the house. Maybe you think managing your business’s bookkeeping and social media is bullshit.

Whatever your bullshit is, you can pay someone else to do it and free up time and energy for things that bring you joy. Multiple studies have shown that outsourcing unpleasant tasks does, in fact, increase happiness.

Imagine spending less time on chores, less time sitting in traffic, less time wrestling with the weedwacker. Sounds pretty happy-making, doesn’t it?

Related: Money doesn’t matter if everything else sucks.  

How to find money for your Bullshit Budget

I bet you’re thinking “that’s great and all, Sarah, but I don’t have enough discretionary income for a Bullshit Budget. I’m counting down to payday every blessed month.”

That might be true! But I’m willing to bet that you have a lot more discretionary income than you think. 

Here’s what I want you to do:

Print out last month’s bank statement and last month’s credit card statement. Pull a highlighter out of your desk drawer.

Now, clear off the dining room table. Put on your favorite mellow album, light a candle, pour yourself a glass of something delicious.

Take five deeeeeeeep breaths, remind yourself that you are not your financial choices, and then take an honest, clear-eyed look at every purchase you made in the last 30 days.

If that purchase is one you regret, highlight it. The happy-hour you got roped into and didn’t really enjoy. The drunken Amazon shopping spree. The aspirational clothes you bought because you wish you were the sort of person who wore leather pants: they all get highlighted.

Now add up all of those purchases.

All that money? That’s money you could re-allocate to your Bullshit Budget.

Instead of buying things for your fantasy life, you could hire someone to mow your lawn.

Rather than a round of cocktails you don’t even enjoy, you could have your groceries delivered.

Instead of boredom buying $75 worth of throw pillows, you could pay someone to schedule Facebook posts.

But here’s the thing: if you’re going to re-allocate this money to your Bullshit Budget next month, then you can’t spend it on regrettable purchases. You probably shouldn’t pay someone to mow the lawn and spend $90 on scented candles. If you’re struggling with that, this will help. 

What to do if you really, truly don’t have money for a Bullshit Budget

Take a look at those financial statements again. Where could you rein in spending? Eating one less meal out could pay for one or two lawn-mowing sessions. One Target impulse purchase could pay for one Lyft ride for your 15-year-old so you don’t have to chauffer them to dance class.

Experiment for a month! Maybe you’ll find that you’d rather eat that meal out and spend your Saturday mornings mowing the lawn. But you might discover that eating a frozen pizza at home so you can free up your weekends is a good, happy-making trade off. 

Could you skill swap with a friend who doesn’t mind doing the things you think are bullshit? Maybe you could trade your photography skills for house cleaning. Or you could trade your editing skills for bookkeeping services. Trawl through your Facebook friends and see if there’s anybody who’d be interested in swapping!

Ask yourself: Do you even have to do this bullshit in the first place? Landscape your yard so there’s no mowing required! Enlist your kids, partner, or roommates in all that cleaning. Make more freezable meals so you don’t have to go grocery shopping so often.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly reduce bullshit if you spend it right.

But I want to hear from you! What bullshit would you like to remove from your life? What are you currently outsourcing and how did you make that happen? Tell us in the comments so we can learn from you!

P.S. If you want to stop making regrettable purchases all together, this will help! And I offer 1-on-1 coaching, too!

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

15 Comments

Dane

This is absolutely brilliant. I love the concept of a catchall “bullshit” category for allocation. Why, if you only have so much money that can go in there, you can use it to kill one kind of bullshit one month, and another kind the next! Man, you are smart. And also, thanks; this is exactly the sort of place my head is right now. Using my resources to reduce the sharp edges of life.

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Charlotte McGhee

Our bullshit: large outdoor tasks in the heat! We have a deck that needs to be stained and a jungle that is creeping through our fence but we just went down to 1 income so that my biz could be my focus… Time to pull out the highlighters!

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Darcy

I hired a cleaning person and it’s made my life so much better. It frees up time and brain space and keeps me from arguing with my husband about cleaning! Plus, it forces us to tidy up clutter every 2 weeks.

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Cristina

We have outsourced a lot of the bullshit tasks, but by far the best money we spend is the anual grocery delivery pass. For a flat charge, we get all our groceries delivered. Sure, sometimes the selection is not outstanding, and the substitutions can get a bit odd, but the cost and occasional inconvenience don’t even come close to the time savings we get out of it.
Getting the husband’s work shirts ironed by someone else is also well worth the money, but I live for online groceries.

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Cristina

I’m in the UK, so I get a delivery pass from my normal supermarket (Sainsbury’s). I can then get all my deliveries for the year free. Online food shopping has really taken here, all chains use it.

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Kamina

I just forwarded this post to my husband with a note that said “I know you’re not as into this as I am, but I’m still trying to sell you on it”. The bullshit budget represents an ongoing values conflict for us. I would SO rather spend money on something than waste time on it, but he values savings really highly and doesn’t mind doing the kind of work that makes me want to rip my own fingernails out. (I am freedom, he is security.)

I’ve always said that my personal definition of success would include having a housecleaner. But my husband is honestly like “Why would you use money on that? It’s $60 a week we could be saving up for something else! That’s $3000 a year! That’s two plane tickets to Greece!”

I also like plane tickets to Greece I guess. So the discussion is ongoing.

Your post assumes that the bullshit budget is objectively a good idea (and I agree! But not everybody does, apparently!) Do you and Kenny have any major values clashes when it comes to how you use your money? I’m sure you talk about this in your course, but I reckon you could do a whole THING on how to navigate different values when it comes to money sharing.

I think I remember from other posts that you advocate for keeping money fairly separate, but some couples do prefer to pool their earnings. (Like, I personally place higher value on that than I do on resolving the housecleaner/plane tickets debate, because it ties into other values that rule in our unique version of marriage.) I think there’s a discussion to be had around balancing your values about sharing and separateness with your individual values around how to use money.

Anyway, thank you, fist-pumped at this post as always.

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Elizabeth

This is genius! I’ve been working towards this for awhile now but being able to put a name to it makes it feel that much more of a possibility. My goal is to find enough in my budget each month for a cleaning service! It is my most dreaded task!

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Kristin

i started using instacart a few months ago, and i’ll never go back. going to the grocery store was my most dreaded task. am i paying a little more now than i would at the store? yes. does it save me the time and energy of shopping, plus the mental drain spent agonizing about having to shop? yes!

Reply

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