Budgeting can really hit your ego when you fail at it. Throughout our lives, we are faced with these “unbeatable” offers, shiny objects, and opportunities to spend money. Everyone from the government to the local booster club wants to stick their hands in your wallet. It doesn’t ever end, but there are things you can do if you fail with your budget from time to time. We aren’t perfect and we all make mistakes.
There are a variety of reasons why you may have failed with your budget. Every single person has different circumstances in their lives, however, it seems the recurring theme I see when talking to people all come back to the same 3 things.
WHY YOUR BUDGET FAILED
- Restrictions. You have put too many restrictions on yourself and you can’t make it work in your mind. You are psyching yourself out and it’s not helping. To succeed at having a healthy budget (yes healthy) is to give yourself wiggle room. That doesn’t mean to throw it out the window when you find an “unbeatable” sale. Truly, the sale is beatable but that’s for another time.
- You aren’t adjusting. Seriously, if you set a budget but never go back to it and adjust as things change then it’s going to fail. You have to adjust your budget often. Things are changing constantly. When I worked in finance there was a rule that we would talk about during our meetings. Basically, the longest a customer would go before having to call in and ask for help was 2 months. Something happens in the average American’s life every 2 months. It can be small or big, but something comes up. Thus, you need to adjust!
- Not sticking to your budget. This is the biggest reason why most people fail with their budget. They don’t have the determination and willpower to stick to what they planned out. This is why it’s so important to have goals. When you have goals it gives you drive to work towards something. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.
WHAT TO DO NOW
So you have messed up. Admit your mistake to yourself and your spouse and take responsibility. Talk it out. Are you ready to move on now? Great! Let’s talk about what to do now.
- Re-evaluate and adjust. You need to re-evaluate your finances. Take a look at your income and see what you have coming in. Can you bring in some extra cash by picking up extra hours or selling things that you don’t need anymore?
- Now take a look at your expenses. Determine where you can cut or move things around within the budget to make up for the shortfalls. For instance, when I need extra cash in my budget the first thing I cut back on is the grocery budget. I know that is the quickest way to extra cash. I will just plan cheaper meals and make my meat go further.
- Cut costs. Don’t be married to your cable bill or your unlimited cell phone data plan. Living a simple life isn’t all that bad. You don’t even need to cut everything out. You could substitute items in your budget easily by choosing a cheaper brand or different services for your needs. The key is to never get attached.
- Make room for fun. No really. You need to make room for fun, because if your budget feels like a prison sentence then it will never work. Make room for a movie night or that bottle of wine you’ve been dying to try. These things are essential for success.
- Learn to say no. This is perhaps the most important of all. You must learn to say no and get good at it. Otherwise, you’re doomed. When everyone and their mother has their hand in your pocket or are asking you to go out with them then you will never stick to your budget. The first time you do it will be hard, but with every other time that comes around, you will get better at it. Just be persistent.
Maintaining a family budget is a long game. It doesn’t happen on its own and it won’t happen without a lot of work. Start today and stick with it because it will pay off in the long run.
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