6 Reasons Your Budget Isn't Working: What You Can Do To Fix It?
If you are not keeping a current written or digital budget, you’re not the only one. It is estimated that 1-in-3 Americans don’t have a recorded budget. Essentially, two-thirds of all American households are living without a plan.
There is much more needed in a successful budget than just ‘having’ a budget. Sometimes it is easier to say we have a budget because it makes us feel responsible and financially wise, but we all know it is extremely difficult to follow.
Implementing the strategy, the goals, and the spending habits can be depressing and make you feel imprisoned within your own finances. However, in order to improve your lifestyle and overall financial goals, a budget is a essential. Yes, they do hold us back a bit, but that is their purpose. Many people who create budgets and stick to them still have problems and numerous amounts have no idea why.
Below are 6 reasons your budget isn’t working in your favor:
1. Forgetting Items
It is vital to incorporate and take into account as many items that you can think of into the budget. If you know that your wife has a birthday next week, budget accordingly. Don’t use the excuse that you didn’t know it was coming. 1) Because that’s a complete lie. 2) Your wife won’t be happy you “forgot” her birthday. Dog house for you!
Remember to consider all expenses both recurring and spontaneous. Life is full of surprises so leaving enough for emergencies is also a must. If you want to make the best financial choices and you already have a savings, then consider using the money in that account for birthdays, emergencies, vacations, etc.
2. Unrealistic Goals and Expectations
It is much easier to give $30 a month to gas and give your personal fund an extra $150, but don’t lie to yourself. You know how much you spend on gas each month, so don’t plan like this. You will set yourself up for ultimate failure.
3. Spending Beyond Your Means
We all want the higher end deodorant, groceries, and name brand toilet cleaner. However, this urge to purchase name brands, high end or elegant products can be destructive. If you need to be buying your groceries at Walmart, don’t go shopping at your local Whole Foods.
If you are wanting a nice steak but you know inside that you can only afford a submarine sandwich, don’t get the steak. There are always times that are appropriate for “treating yourself,” however, not as much as you may think.
4. Not Keeping The Budget Up To Date
You create the budget and update it once a week. Huge no-no. First, you forget throughout the week about the amounts you have allocated per spending group. Second, it makes for a long update each week. It will become more tedious as time goes on and the longer you wait. That will make you want to stop following a budget all together.
Not only is updating your budget on consistent basis important, but making sure you adjust the amounts and allotments as you spend throughout the week. If you dedicated $100 towards gas, but got stuck in traffic or had to run somewhere you hadn’t planned that sucked your gas, then adjust the budget.
5. Forgetting Emergencies
As was mentioned in step 1, emergencies happen to us when we least expect them. If we knew they were coming, then we’d be prepared and it wouldn’t be a true emergency. If you are driving to work and run over a nail, well that’s at least $120+ expense if nothing is left but shreds. You have to run to the hospital for an emergency surgery? That is going to cost you.
It is crucial to your budget and financial decisions to always have savings for an emergency fund. If you can save $1000 or so, Dave Ramsy, Finance Guru says, “When a car battery goes out or a baseball meets a window in your house, you won't have to go into debt to fix it. You don't want to dig a deeper hole while you're trying to work your way out.”
6. Lastly, Don’t Expect It To Give Your Finances a Makeover Overnight
Just like most things in life, you can’t expect immediate results and savings to just show up in your pocket by following some budget for a week. If you feel like it’s been a few days and impossible to keep up with, realize that it will take time for you to see the results. That will in turn give you motivation to continue.
Think of it like losing weight. You have a long way to go, but can’t give up early on. You need to pass that breaking point to feel the changes being made to become more motivated and keep it up.
It’s hard enough to follow a strict plan. But, if you’re determined to follow a budget then you might as well follow through with it all the way and do it right. Be aware of these steps as you plan and you will be even closer to your financial goals.