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You'll never build wealth if you can't get over a misconception too many of us have about money


  • Jesse Mecham is the author of "You Need a Budget" and the founder of a personal-finance platform by the same name.
  • He makes the case for a flexible budgeting system. "You're not accountable to every line item in your budget," he writes.
  • Sometimes your priorities change — if you end up spending more on eating out one month, you'll have to spend less on new clothes. And that's okay.


"You're actually never more accountable than when you change your budget."
So says Jesse Mecham, the founder of personal-finance platform You Need a Budget. In his forthcoming book, also titled "You Need a Budget," Mecham makes the case for a flexible budgeting system — one where, if you spend $200 instead of $150 on weekly groceries, you don't label yourself a failure.
Problem is, too many people hear the words "accountability" and "self-discipline" and think of numbers that must be rigidly adhered to at all times.
Mecham argues that the only sustainable budgeting system is one that allows for periodic change. He writes: "Your budget reflects your life, and like life, plans (and budgets) change."
He gives an example to illustrate his point. Let's say you overspend on eating out and need to take money from a different priority — say, going on vacation. Mecham writes: "You are living the reality of what it means to spend more than you'd planned: you're now that much further from your vacation goal. It's not a failure, but a reprioritization."
That said, Mecham is clear that while "you're not accountable to every line item in your budget," you are definitely accountable to your "bottom line — that is, the balance between your money in versus money out."
Mecham wants you to think big-picture — but mostly, he wants you to be realistic about what your life looks like. Sure, it doesn't feel great to know that you spent $150 on happy-hour beers this week. You'd rather be the person who diligently funneled that money toward summer vacation in Spain.
But you're not perfect, and you probably won't ever be. Channel the energy you'd otherwise use to beat yourself up into doing better next time.
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