The Frustration of Personal Budgeting.

It can be incredibly frustrating to hear someone give you advice on your finances. Although well intentioned, the solution often floated is that you simply need to live within your means in order to find financial stability. Of course this makes sense, however, the problem is that many of us don’t have enough working cash flow in order to make ends meet. In this scenario, this advice becomes frustrating at best, insulting at worst.

To be clear, I do believe that budgeting is the best strategy to finding financial freedom, however, it’s not as simple as someone waving a magic “manage your finances and all will be well,” wand. Here are some strategies to help you figure out the steps to finding financial stability.

  1. Set a budget: Knowledge is power and a well thought out budget will help you think about how much you’re spending each months. The more important aspect of your budget is how much you’re making. Understanding your income and where it comes from is incredibly important. Tip: I highly recommend You Need A Budget.
  2. Check out the cost of living in your area: Cost of living calculators are incredibly helpful in determining an average amount it will cost to live comfortably in a city. Tip: Often, there are less expensive places to live in a city. Consider living in those areas in order to live below an established cost of living in your area. 
  3. Live a minimalist lifestyle: Minimalists look at their budget and systematically get rid of anything that is an expense beyond their mandatory living expenses. Minimalists will often live with multiple roommates in a more expensive city in order to drive down the cost of living. Tip: I recommend living a minimalist lifestyle with one caveat: Make sure you budget a little for relaxation and enjoyment of the city in which you live. Otherwise, budgets will be broken.
  4. Look for opportunities to make money: If you feel good about the first three steps and you’re still not making enough to make ends meet, you’ll likely need to take on more work. Look for opportunities to make some money outside your art form. Tip: Look for a position that allows you to choose your hours so you have more flexibility when carving out time for your art. 
  5. Stay away from credit cards: Credit cards can be incredibly tempting when trying to make ends meet. If you decide to use them, it could take you years to dig out. Tip: If you’re currently using credit cards to survive, something is not right in your financial equation. Stop using them immediately and figure out a different strategy (outlined above) to make ends meet.   


Finding financial stability is very possible when you have the information needed to move forward. Hopefully, the steps outlined above will enable you to make educated decisions about how to balance your personal budget.

Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any questions.


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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

3 thoughts on “The Frustration of Personal Budgeting.

  1. Hi Nate – I heard about another thing like You Need a Budget – have you heard of MINT?
    It has some good, some rotten reviews. Have you personally had good luck with this site?
    Now that I’m living in NYC, this kind of thing is more important than ever! I’m just getting my feet wet here and starting to look for more professional opportunities.
    xo Steph

    1. Hi Stephanie! You Need A Budget (YNAB) is 10x better than MINT. I’ve been using YNAB for about two years and it has changed my life! Glad you’re getting settled into NYC and best of luck with the professional opportunities! NZ

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