How to Live a Debt Free Life without a Budget

I may be in the margins here, but I think budgets are boring. Don't get me wrong, I have more than a handful of budgeting posts {just do a quick search right up over there in the search bar}, but if you peg me down, I'd have to be honest with you and tell you that our family has never really had a budget. Never. Not ever. All that to say, we have been able to live debt-free, save money, and make investments, and this year, we will be paying off our largest purchase, our home. So how can we do that when budgets are boring? I'll tell you how! 

pencil budget live without a budget

Budgets are Boring but Frugal is Fun
How to Live a Debt Free Life Without a Budget

debt free life without a budget

If you know our family in real life, you'd know that my husband is the more predictable one. He's a classic engineer. Sure we've been married for decades, but I can still easily predict what he will order at a restaurant or how he will respond to a situation because, well, because he's predictable. But it turns out, our spending is pretty predictable too.

Want to know how to live without a budget?

debt free no budget

There really isn't a secret other than knowing exactly where your money is going. 

So how is that different than budgeting? 

Well, it's not really, which is why I think budgets are boring and frugal is fun.

From the moment we got married, my husband started tracking our expenses. Spreadsheets help make his world more predictable {shocking!}, so he thrives by entering every receipt and every dollar spent into one and track where it's going. 

As with anything you track on the regular, patterns emerge. Our spending is predictable.

For us, we were able to set a "general" budget knowing that every month XYZ was being spent on food, housing, gas, whatever! 

The key to successful money saving is not budgeting but knowing where your money is going. Once you know where your money is going, you can make it work for you.

I know we aren't the only family that has predictable spending habits. These predictable spending habits make it key for living without a budget. Because {say it with me} budgets are boring!

If I need a reality check, sometimes all I have to do is go to that trusty spreadsheet and type in "eating out" or "Hobby Lobby" and I'll quickly see how much I've spent in a month or over the year and it is a gut check for me to make some changes to my spending.

You won't know what your downfalls are, or how to cut out or cut back on spending if you don't know where your money is going.

Instead of a budget, we just track our finances. 

Want to know how you can live cheap without feeling cheap? Check this out!

How can you Track your Finances?

We've always used Quicken {and by we, I mean my husband because one time I tried to "help" and ended up messing up his categories}

**the reviews for the updated {and latest} version of Quicken are horrible. I will not be linking it for you to buy it because I'm not sure you should. We have an older version and we don't pay extra for a subscription. Quicken has worked for us for 23 years and at some point, we will need to reevaluate our current tracking system.

Some people find that they can make a spreadsheet on their own in Excel or Google Sheets. 

I haven't tried any of these tracking apps, but these three all come highly recommended by people who are tracking their finances, which is why I'm only recommending these because no one needs too many choices!

YNAB {You Need a Budget}
Every Dollar

There are a zillion more budgeting and tracking apps out there. You know why? Because budgeting and overspending are problems for a lot of people! And what better way for a company to make money than on people who are struggling with their finances. This isn't going to be you because you are paying attention am.I.right?

Should you pay for a budgeting app?

There are often free versions of every app. The paid versions typically come with more features that might be helpful to you. I honestly think that you can probably get all that you need out of using a free app without spending any additional money on anything. But most apps offer free 30 day trials. You can always give those a shot and see if they are worth the investment.

Pro-tip: Anytime I start a free trial, I set a reminder in my phone a few days before it ends and then again a day before the trial ends to remind me to cancel or continue my subscription. That way, I'm making a conscious decision to continue on with the subscription rather than the subscription making the decision for me. 

do i need a budget

No Budget? No problem!
But Only If You Do These 4 Things...

1. You need to be tracking your spending!

You have to know where your money is going. I will continue to sound like a broken record when I say this but this is THE KEY!

2. Be a conscious consumer

You have to evaluate your spending habits! Sure, you can know that you spend too much at Starbucks, but if you don't do anything about it, you'll keep overspending. Know your weaknesses and your pitfalls and make conscious decisions with your money.

Check out this post on the real cost of the impulse buy!

3. Reevaluate monthly expenses

You should always know that you are getting the best rate on your reoccurring expenses. Is your mortgage rate competitive, and are you signed up for autopay for services you don't use? You have to know what those monthly expenses are in order to renegotiate or find a better rate.

4. Make frugal choices

If you find that you are an overspender by nature, you might not be able to get by without a budget. If you are frugal by nature, or if you become frugal by habit {sometimes people who start watching where their money goes become naturally frugal}, you might be able to live without a budget.

Here are 20 things frugal people do every day. Do you do these things too?

budgeting is boring

Will you hear me talk about budgeting?


I'll continue to talk about budgeting even though we have never budgeted because budgeting is basically just a plan for your money. So when I use the "b" word, know that what I'm really talking about is a plan. 

Just check out this post on how to live on a budget. 

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

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