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Mountains of debt cannot be repaid just by packing lunches and cutting cable. Those are comforting bedtime stories we tell ourselves about capitalism.

The Real Story of How I Paid Off My Mortgage in 4 Years

As of fifteen minutes (and one very cold beer) ago, I officially own the beautiful house I’m sitting in right now.

My partner and I have been refreshing our mortgage account every few hours today, waiting for the final payment to process. (Weirdly, you have to WIRE the final payment. Seriously? After this years-long relationship of sending personal check after personal check, our mortgage lender refuses to trust us at the finish line? Fine, whatever…) Just before the close of the day, it happened.

Current principal balance: $0.00.

$0.00.

My mortgage is gone. I am done paying rent. If all things go according to plan, I will never ever pay rent again for as long as I live. Let’s talk about it!

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Some people make budgets, fail at them, and enter a cycle of self-loathing and financial stress that harms more than it helps.

Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone—Try This System Instead

On a recent episode of the highly respected, laudable, and deserving-of-awards Bitches Get Riches podcast, Kitty and I came out with a controversial take: You don’t necessarily need a budget.

Next to “You can buy a latte sometimes,” it’s just about the closest we’ve come to outright heresy in the halls of money writers. We expect to be shunned and excommunicated any moment now.

Yet I firmly believe that budgeting doesn’t work for everyone!

Yes, for some people it’s an incredibly useful, indispensable tool. I know people who flailed around with money like a noodly-armed fan man on a used car lot before they made a budget, and afterward approached their finances with the serenity and enlightenment of a monk.

Seen here: Actual post-budgeting bliss. Results not typical.

I also know people who make budgets, fail at them, and enter a cycle of constant self-loathing and financial stress that ultimately harms them more than it helps. Some of us chafe against the rigidity of a budget, others thrive within its strict boundaries.

Seen here: Actual post-budgeting death throes.

So budgeting ain’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you’re excused from managing your money altogether. Even without a budget, it’s still useful to have a system for keeping an eye on your money.

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