Budgets are a great idea in theory; it’s the actual practice so many struggle with. There is something about the budget process that feels controlling and many rebel against this feeling of being controlled. The irony is that you are ultimately the one controlling the process when budgets function correctly.
A budget is about giving you more control over your money, not taking control away. By increasing awareness around where funds are spent, you are able to earmark spending based on priorities, rather than impulse buying.
Here are 10 reasons why you struggle to maintain a budget and what to do about it.
- The budget is too strict. An effective budget is built around your life rather than your life being built around your budget. When a budget attempts to account for every dollar spent, it is too restrictive and impossible to follow, because unexpected costs always come up. Begin with a look at past bank or credit card statements to estimate what you spend in each general area. Then use that as a benchmark and adjust from there. You will now begin at a realistic point in time and the budget will be adjusted through thoughtful planning.
- Miscellaneous and unexpected expenses are not built into the budget. Nearly every month expenses pop up that you do not plan for. Maybe it is a birthday, a school field trip, or a car repair that suddenly needs to be addressed. Gas prices rise or you take a long weekend to see family. Building some leeway into the budget will prevent you from scrambling, or feeling broke, every time you need to find extra cash to cover an expense. Setting aside a little in a miscellaneous expense line item is an easy way to account for non-regular but necessary costs.
- Ignore small expenses. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “A small leak will sink a great ship.” Leaks in your financial budget can prevent you from staying on track and reaching your long term financial goals. The challenge with small expenses is that they are small. These costs do not seem to matter. It is easy to convince yourself that $5 here and $10 there will not impact your budget significantly because they are insignificant. Yet when you add all those little costs together they can amount to large sums of money that are essentially wasted throughout the month.
- You believe there is not enough discretionary money for a budget. When paying your bills consumes all of your paychecks, it can feel like a wasted exercise to create a budget. When the demand for money exceeds your income, fear can paralyze you into Somehow you feel if you don’t look at it closely it won’t be as bad as you fear. The complete opposite is true. That is the time to examine every line item in search of savings. A budget will help you make the most of every dollar and help you ‘find’ money for longer term goals. Regardless of your income or how many bills you have, a budget will assist in the management of those funds.
- Take a reactionary approach to finances. One of the most self-defeating behaviors to your financial balance sheet is reacting instead of acting. Social pressures to eat at certain restaurants or drive certain cars can control your life if you let it. Children cry out for the latest cell phone, expensive clothes, and other things that ‘everyone else has.’ Giving into these demands for money can lead to overspending. When you use the term, “I can’t afford it” there is a sense of deprivation that is felt. As if you are being denied something that really matters. Reminding yourself that a certain expense is ‘not in the budget’ gives you back the power.
- Focus on short term over long term is like losing weight with a crash diet instead of changing your eating habits. Short term solutions are not generally effective for long term problems. Money will continue to be an issue as long as you look for ‘quick fixes’ to your long term financial challenges. This might include reducing the budget so tight you are left financially starving or taking on a second or third job, leaving you with no quality of life. Drastic measures can only be maintained for short periods of time before you are left feeling resentful. These strategies are good for jump starting a long term program but are not sustainable as daily habits. Living beyond your means is generally a spending problem, not an income problem. Adjusting your lifestyle by making sustainable and permanent changes is the best way to stay on budget without constantly feeling deprived.
- Don’t understand finances and money. The financial world is filled with mountains of information on saving, investing, and debt reduction advice. Trying to digest it all can be overwhelming and lead to analysis paralysis. There are reliable resources that offer solid recommendations on handling finances responsibly. Turn to reliable sources to better understand how to apply these principles to your personal life.
- Don’t recognize the power of your attitude. Beat the mental game by keeping a positive attitude. Convincing yourself that it’s too hard or for some reason the rules don’t apply to you will prevent you from moving forward. Following a budget requires both logical and psychological changes in how you view money. Just because your parents, friends, or family does things a certain way, does not mean you must follow. More money does not always translate to more success or a better life.
- Rely solely on self-control. Over spending generally has triggers that are hard to resist. Recognize what your triggers are and avoid the temptation. Stay away from online shopping and email promotions on things you know you shouldn’t purchase, saving credit card information online, or trips to the mall for the sake of going. This creates an environment where self-control is likely to lose to the temptations that are presented.
- Don’t tweak the budget as you go along. Budgeting is not an event but rather a journey that will be adjusted as you go through life. Over time, your goals and priorities will change and your budget should reflect this. You don’t create a budget one time and then forget about it. Managing finances must reflect your lifestyle and as it changes, the budget will change with it.
Controlling your money will give you more control over your life. Money is the means by which you acquire goods and experiences but not a measure of your value or worth. Very few have unlimited resources leaving you to choose which activities or material possessions have the most value. If you want a richer more fulfilling life, control your budget, and you will be able to afford the things that hold the most value.
If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you're just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a FREE financial analysis. Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs. You don't have to struggle with high interest credit card debt any longer. Call (855) 250-8329 or get in touch with us by sending a message through our website here http://timberlinefinancial.com/contact-us/.