So, you’ve followed my steps on how to create a working budget, but suddenly you’ve found yourself stuck. You thought that creating a budget was a good idea (and it is!), but it just isn’t working out for you. Why? Here are ten reasons your best efforts to budget could be hindered. Follow some of my simple advice and get yourself back on track. Remember: Budgeting is all about your behavior.
You are spending more than you make
The easiest way to fall off your budget is by over-spending. You need to be disciplined. You will have to set limits and follow them. It is hard at first, but it will get easier as time goes on. If you’re ready to get serious, you need to start spending within reasonable boundaries.
You haven’t given it time to work
Perfecting your budget takes time, so don't get frustrated if you aren't seeing immediate results. You will need to allow yourself time to get used to your new ways of spending and cutting back. Don’t give up after two weeks; try your budget out for two months before calling it quits. (I wouldn’t recommend the second half!)
You are setting unrealistic goals
For example: You set your gas budget to $50 a month, when you drive 50 miles/day to work. Make sure that your monthly accounts add up or are as close to what you are actually spending. If you have a bill that fluctuates every month, take the average over the last six months and use that as your monthly estimate. Some months will be more/less, but keep the extra money in your account to make up for those months where you may run short.
You aren’t in the right mind frame
You need to be committed to the process and focused on the end result of your efforts. Following a budget probably won’t work if you are always thinking of indulging in retail therapy rather than balancing your 401k at the end of the year.
You aren’t adjusting or revising your budget
After two to three months of being on your current budget, sit down and crunch the numbers. How is your budget working in reality? If it's not working well, revise it as needed and figure out unique ways to further cut back on money. For some inspiration on how to do this, you can check out my previous post on cutting back.
You have improperly budgeted
Have you forgotten about expenses you only pay bi-monthly or annually? For those types of expenses, I recommend dividing them by 12 months and using that number for the amount of money you set aside per month for that bill. This makes it easier when you get that “big bill” because you have already saved money (over the last few months) to cover it.
You don’t have the right support
Are you and your spouse on the same page with money? Having the same views on finances is so important. If you are the saver and your husband is the spender, you may need to sit down and have a conversation about his spending habits. Discuss your future goals and come up with a plan on how you wish to get there.
You forgot about “the emergency fund”
Make sure to plan for emergencies by having some money stored away in your account for a time when you need it. Wondering how exactly to set one up? Read my previous post to find out how.
You are lying to yourself
Are you fudging your budget? Is the math adding up? At the end of every month, I update my budget and fill in all costs in the allotted slots (you can use Excel or Google Sheets to keep this organized.) I add up all of my expenses and subtract them from our total income for the month. The goal is to be under-budget. With time and persistence you will get there, as long as you are being honest about what you're spending.
You aren’t sticking to the plan
Most importantly, you need to stick to your budget. This sounds like common sense, but if you don’t stick to it, it will NEVER work. Keep a copy of your budget in your wallet as a reminder that maybe, just maybe, you can't afford those new heels. Place a post-it on your desk at work or in your car so you think twice about spending money on that gourmet lunch. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your plan, do it!
Creating a budget is easy, but sticking to it can be a challenge. Try to focus on the outcome of your budget, and how much better off you will be long-term from saving. All things are attainable if you are determined and put in the effort. Remember: You got this! And I am here for you in the comments section if you have any questions along the way.