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The dreaded b-word. Lately, you have probably heard this word come up whether at work, on social media or your friends are jumping on this budgeting and paying off debt bandwagon.
So you think about joining. I mean what could it hurt to have less debt and more money? It’s something we all want.
It’s something my husband and I longed for. So we decided to do it. The whole Budgeting thing. We decided to get serious and stop living in the shift of the worldly ways. We stopped listening to what society tells us about spending and questioned what it said instead.
Why do we need to finance everything?
Why aren’t we paying cash for a car?
Why do we put everything on our credit card?
In two years we paid it all off. Five years later we are on an aggressive path to paying off the mortgage in under 10 years. ( You can read more about our story here.)
If you are new to budgeting years may sound long and scary. The fact of the matter is years pass by quicker and quicker in life.
If it takes two years to pay off your debt it’s worth it. Two years out of your life span is minuscule, correct?
So if you have started budgeting and you can’t figure out WHY you are still spending so much money and not paying off your debt, you may be making one of the mistakes below.
11 Reasons You’re Failing at Your Budget
You start your budget halfway through the month
If you start each month just going along like usual and then a week and a half later realize you have spent more then you should, it’s because you didn’t start your budget at the beginning of the month.
Starting your budget at the beginning of the month allows you to know where your money is going to be spent- before you spend it. It gives you some room to breathe to see if there is anything coming up that may need extra money, and allows you to better plan for it.
You’re not telling Every Dollar Where to Go
Let’s say you have $4,000 coming in a month. You budget for $3,500. You leave $500 out. You can’t do this. Every dollar needs to have a home. Otherwise, it can lead to emotional spending and allows you to have stuff that slows you down and buries you further into debt.
Have an extra $5 put in your Fun Spending or Savings. Give every dollar a home.
Track Every Little Thing
You forgot to track down how much gas you spent. Or the fact that your kids needed extra money this week at school. Even if it’s a smaller amount you need to track it. If you are getting gas and saying you will write it down when you get home you need a better system. There are a bunch of apps you can download to help you track expenses as you go.
Use your phone to write a note of what you just spent. Get in the habit of keeping every receipt. Have a spot in your home for the receipts to go. Get a system of how you are going to track your spending before you do it.
You Didn’t Build an Emergency Fund
Life happens we all know that. When you are budgeting you need to have an emergency fund. The ideal amount to start with is $1,000. Then you want to continue to grow that fund as you can. An emergency fund is essential because if something in your car breaks you aren’t forced or tempted to use your credit card to pay for it. When you have an emergency fund the temptation to use money from somewhere else in your budget is eliminated.
You’re Not Paying Off Your Debt
Once you make a budget and stick with it as you pay off debt and income increases your budget just becomes second nature. If you make a budget and follow it but are not working on paying your debt off then you may think your budget isn’t working. In reality, you just aren’t paying off the debt in a consistent manner.
You Forgot Christmas Comes Every Year
Holidays should not be budget breakers. Why? You can budget them in. We know Christmas comes every year. We know who we are buying for. You are in control of the budget. If you start planning ahead you can also get items for a much lower cost throughout the year instead of a few weeks before.
I recommend budgeting for all special occasions each month. If you set aside money for these each month when the holiday like Christmas arrives you won’t be putting the last minute deals on your credit card and having buyers remorse Jan. 1st.
You Didn’t Make a Meal Plan
Meal Planning is the key to success when it comes to cutting your grocery bill in half. I say it all the time. Meal planning and couponing allowed us to survive a 6-month spending freeze while we paid two mortgages, two utility bills and went through Christmas, and both of our kids birthdays. Food is not cheap and it’s one of those items we rationalize by saying we need it. But you can make delicious affordable meals if you just take the time to plan them.
You may want to read:
You’re Not Shopping at Thrift Stores
If your budget just isn’t working you need to try shopping at thrift stores. I highly recommend if you live in a bigger city to try different stores frequently. I know there are some areas that always seem to have better items than other ones. Find one of those and check it often. It’s always worth walking into a thrift store just to see, rather than thinking they won’t have anything. Many times items are marked 70% off original price. I have found a bunch of items brand new as well.
Find one of those and check it often. It’s always worth walking into a thrift store just to see, rather than thinking they won’t have anything. Many times items are marked 70% off original price. I have found a bunch of items brand new as well.
Don’t blow the budget on brand new items seek Thrift Stores first.
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You Forgot To Have Fun
If you decide to attack your debt with a fierce attitude you get so into it, you forgot to have fun. Our finances are something we don’t want to control us but yet it seems it’s all our minds are filled with at times.
When you are planning out your budget at the beginning of the month make it a priority to save aside some cash to do something fun. Something that changes up your daily routine. If you are a married a date night with your spouse is a perfect thing to do. If you are planning for the month and you don’t have any extra money to put in a fun spot plan for it the next month.
Don’t lose hope. It’s important to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve been doing. Keep it simple and always within your means.
You Want Perfectionism
When you first start budgeting you may notice some areas are over or under budget. That is okay. It takes time and adjusting to finally get a budget that works. Don’t give up because you are looking at the numbers and everything isn’t working the way you imagined.
Make your budget accordingly and give every dollar a purpose. If you are under budget decide where to put that money. If you are over budget take a look at where you can cut back.
It’s important if you are budgeting as a couple to not expect everything to go perfectly just because you have a budget in place. We are all human and will make mistakes. Be open and honest and know that even planning a budget takes time before it just clicks.
You Didn’t Change Your Mindset
This is something that may resonate with those who are doing a budget as a couple. Sure your spouse is all for this budgeting thing and only allowing each of you to have $10 a week to spend on whatever your heart desires and you just are not feeling it.
You are trying to support your spouse but you don’t like feeling like you have no control.
You need to change your mindset. You need to do the budget together. You need to communicate. If you go into the beginning of the month and you have figured out your budget with your spouse, say it out loud together what a success it is going to be.
Write out your end goal and place it somewhere you both will pass by frequently in your home. Be reminded of the rewards that will come after following your budget.
Will you be debt free?
Will you pay off your student loans?
Will you have cash for a vacation?
Change your mindset to, this will work instead of this can’t work. Believe it or not, a budget doesn’t restrict you it makes it easier.
If you have children think of the benefits of discipline. When they don’t have boundaries things get out of control. The same goes for your money. It needs boundaries.
I hope that helps you with your budget!
If you have any questions or comments with budget feel free to share below!