Mastering the skill of creating and sticking to a budget is a long process for everyone, so don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t working with a successful one just yet. Fortunately, there are a few tips to make your budget easier to manage and get it on the right track.
Here’s a few reasons why your budget may be failing:
1. You Haven’t Adjusted it
One of the biggest mistakes that beginners will make with their budget is not adjusting it within their monthly time frame. Your finances will change, and in order for your budget to be successful, it has to match them.
When you first make your budget, you will base it off of your anticipated expenses and loan payments, such as a title loan payment schedule you might have. However, after these expenses change, they have to be updated to make sure your budget is reflective of the true anticipated income and expenses.
You will have to adjust month to month, and if you haven’t touched your budget since its inception, it’s time to revisit your plan.
2. You’re not Planning for Emergencies
A budget can mean nothing if you haven’t planned for your car battery needing to be replaced or your spouse having an emergency surgery. Emergency expenses can creep up on you and completely overturn your budget if you haven’t planned for them.
Emergency expenses can take away from your income that was dedicated towards important bills and necessary expenses.
One easy way to combat this is to build up an emergency fund. You should be aiming to have at least six months of living expenses saved, although more if possible is also recommended. Every month you should have planned for 10% of your income to go into your savings.
This can easily help build your fund and create a decent sized emergency stash in a matter of months.
3. You Haven’t Set Realistic Goals
Keeping your goals too far away can be where you are coming up short. Setting goals can keep you motivated to save more, but it can also be a hinderance if you have set unrealistic ones. Instead of “save enough for a house in a year” as a goal, it may be prudent to try more realistic ones:
- Save Enough for A Down Payment for A House
- Save Enough for Six Months of Unemployment
- Cut Down Entertainment Expenses in Half
- Pay Off Credit Card Debt
These realistic goals can help you stay motivated and not feel discouraged if you aren’t meeting them! Set smaller goals that can help you become encouraged to save more and have mini-goals and milestones you can easily meet throughout the year with a little bit of effort.
When you meet your goals, it’s okay to reward yourself! Whether it be a nice new outfit or a dinner, it can help you feel rewarded for becoming financially responsible.
4. Your Budget is Restrictive
When you first create your budget, it can be tempting to strip your spending down to the smallest amount possible. While it can seem like the right thing to do, it can be detrimental to your budget’s success.
If you’re budget is too restrictive, it can lead to overspending eventually, as you might feel like it is too impossible to stick to the limitations that you’ve set. It is important to allow yourself some luxuries, as long as they do not get out of hand.
Having too much restriction can discourage you from your goals and allowing a little bit of wiggle room can help you feel much less overwhelmed throughout the month.
Restrict somethings like entertainment but allow yourself a few different occasional luxuries throughout the month like a nice dinner.
5. You’re Not Changing Your Habits
When you’ve created your budget, one of the mistakes that you might make is not changing your financial habits. Your financial habits will need to adapt with your budget. For example, you might have only a certain budget for groceries and food throughout the month.
One of the mistakes you might be making is not adapting to the habits that can make this budget possible, such as taking your lunch to work instead of buying lunch every day.
These seemingly small purchases can add up quickly and contribute to over $40 a week just on UberEats!
Changing your spending behavior to taking a lunch ahead of time can save you over $120 a month that can be invested elsewhere.
Another habit that can be changed is how you spend your money on items like coffee. The cost of Starbucks once a day, five days a week could be invested in a coffee machine. This can save you exponentially throughout the month!
6. You’re not Being Proactive
Part of what makes a budget successful is being proactive about keeping it a success. Being proactive can mean a variety of different things, but what it mostly comes down to is motivation to keep your budget in check.
This means being on top of your budget every month, and making sure you adjust it as needed throughout the month.
7. You’re Forgetting to Add Things to Your Budget
When you’re putting together a budget, most people will gather their monthly bills and find out where their money has been going every month. However, basing solely on bills can be a hinderance, as there are usually plenty of additional expenses that don’t come with bills.
Some of the items that most forget to include on their expenses sheet are:
- Eating out
- Impulse Shopping
- Entertainment Costs
- Annual Payments
All of these are very real expenses that most do not prepare for, or do not include on their budget. Adding these in can give you a more accurate estimate of your budget, and help it become more successful in finding where you need to cut your spending!