What if personal finance isn’t entirely personal?

What if budgeting alone isn’t enough?

If you’ve been reading our newsletter for a while, taken one of our courses, or perused much of our blog, you’ve seen a lot of content about how to budget well. Read enough of it, and you might think we believe that, “If you just budget well enough, your financial situation will be fine and dandy.” And related to that, “If your financial situation is not so good, it must primarily be because you didn’t do a good job of budgeting.” And further, “If your financial situation is solid, it’s entirely because of choices you made in your budget.”

But we don’t believe that. Because frankly, it just isn’t true. Budgeting can certainly be helpful as you’ve probably experienced firsthand, but it also has its limits. The economy is not fair, and it is often especially hard on Black people, a reality that has been highlighted by widespread protests over the last few weeks in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. For folks who start at a severe disadvantage, the best budgeting habits can make personal finances less unstable — but it’s much harder to get out of debt completely and onto solid financial footing.

As a small budgeting platform, we know we can’t fix all of the injustice that we see around us. We certainly don’t have all the answers and we are still learning. But we are receiving the call to participate more deeply in the work of justice. While admittedly inadequate, our current steps toward justice include:

  • Giving 5% of our May revenue as part of our company to our long-time community partner who empowers entrepreneurs in our historically Black neighborhood.
  • Sharing our office space with a local school, also a long-time partner, that focuses on serving kids of color and those who will be first generation college students.
  • Creating a free crash course to support those who’ve been hit especially hard by the current economic downturn.
  • Improving the free version of our budgeting software, including more features to manage debt. Because while we acknowledge that budgeting has its limits, it’s still very helpful on the road to financial stability.

To help us continue on this journey, we’re committing ongoing staff time to educating ourselves and working toward justice. Because there’s lots of room to grow and there’s much more to understand about ourselves, our world, and our part in it in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

We hope and long for a truly just economy one day. And then perhaps budgeting alone will be sufficient for everyone to get their finances in order.

— Chi-En and the Goodbudget Team

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