Why everyone needs a f*ck budget

How many fucks do you give? Maybe it’s time to give less

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

In the opening pages of her book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck, Sarah Knight confesses to being a bit of a perfectionist: “I was a born fuck-giver. As a self-described overachieving perfectionist, I gave my fucks liberally all throughout my childhood and adolescence. I tackled numerous projects, tasks, and standardized tests in order to prove myself worthy of respect and admiration.”

I’ll confess: at this point, on page seven of her book, I wasn’t really sure if Knight was for me. If anything, I thought shamefully, I could do with being more of a born fuck-giver. I don’t think I’ve “tackled” much in my life, preferring to soft-roll into goals with my eyes closed and my elbows tucked in. My teachers railed at my seeming inability to focus, and my parents briefly barred “meh” as a syllable in my house. I doubted Knight’s witty, useful little book – sorry, Sarah, I’m just a little too chill for you. 

If you can only give five fucks a day, you can dedicate yourself fully to those five fucks 

But, as Knight tackled the first point on her agenda in a section labelled “You need to stop giving a fuck what people think”, I started seeing my own behaviour rise from the fuck-giving swamp. Knight isn’t just talking about the pressures of deadlines, of not seeing your family enough, or of planning a perfect wedding. Knight is talking about the myriad micro-fucks we give every day, from being the only one in the office who hasn’t watched Making A Murderer to the odd anxiety of not yet having a contactless debit card. 

In short, I never realised just how many fucks I give, daily, to what others think of me. The fucks I give to impress them, the little lies I tell to please them and the plans I make constantly with people I don’t even want to see. So, I did what Knight suggested: I created a Fuck Budget. Just like a financial budget, where you save and scrimp for the holiday or home of a lifetime, a Fuck Budget can feel restrictive at first, but it’s that same self-denial that grants reward. If you can only give five fucks a day, you can dedicate yourself fully to those five fucks. 

Without a Fuck Budget, NGAF can be a slow learning process, and often you’re only comfortable not giving a fuck when the thing in question has granted you too much misery for you to possibly give a fuck about it again. For instance, I once inferred to an ex-boyfriend that I gave a fuck about his basketball team, and then spent several weekends glumly eating an overpriced hotdog and texting through a London Lions game. In my next relationship, I told my boyfriend straight up: hell fucking no, I don’t want to go to a Tottenham match with you. “But it’s a free ticket!” DGAF. “But it’s the match of the season!” D.G.A.F, mate. 

In the spirit of an easier life, and better weekends, and an uncluttered, fuck-plenty mind, I am telling you to make a fuck budget

Because, really, it’s good to care about things. It’s good to give a fuck about your recycling and your parents and the situation in Syria. And when you budget the things you give a fuck about, you can really commit to them. It’s when the unnecessary fucks creep in: the fucks you give about Tottenham, or whether your winter coat is a weird length for your legs, for instance – that’s one less fuck you can now give to something you actually care about. To something that “sparks joy”, as Knight says. The fuck I could have given to Spurs that weekend, I instead added to the fucks I gave to the Tate Modern the following one. I gave two massive fucks to the Byron triptych, rather than one measly fuck. 

In the spirit of an easier life, and better weekends, and an uncluttered, fuck-plenty mind, I advise you to take Sarah Knight’s advice: I am telling you to make a fuck budget. One list of things you care about, things that spark joy and things that will better your life. On the second list? Things you really, really couldn’t give a fuck about, and will give no further fucks to. Here’s mine.  

Being good at my job do other people think my job is cool?
is my dad ok? are my dad's opinions ok?
renting a new house being able to buy a house, ever
making new music listening to new music
all costume dramas all theatre



The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck

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Mental Health

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