I first learnt about budgets in secondary school; from my home economics text book, to be precise. I started budgeting even with my small allowance, and over the years, those skills have helped me manage my own finances, and run my home more efficiently than I would have without a budget.
Many people know that a budget is crucial for anyone who is serious about taking control of their finances, yet they find that despite their efforts, it just doesn’t work. If you’ve struggled with sticking to your budget, consider these reasons why many budgets fail.
1. You’re not paying yourself first:
Your savings account is a huge part of your financial freedom, and there is something immensely fulfilling about setting a savings goal and meeting it. Paying yourself first is setting money aside for your savings before spending money on yourself. Paying for expenses before saving is paying yourself last- and what often happens is you end up not paying yourself at all. If you pay for everything else first, you may find you actually don’t have any money. This has a way of messing up your entire budget.
2. You haven’t found a system that works for you:
Some people automate their bills, some withdraw a fixed amount weekly, while some refuse to handle cash, sticking to online banking and card payments only. I particularly found the envelope method to be very effective for me as a young single woman. I would withdraw what I needed and divide it into labeled envelopes; food, fuel, toiletries, etc. This way, I was able to track how much I had left for each of these expenses, and when I ran out of money, I knew it immediately and adjusted my spending accordingly. When I found myself running out too fast, I reviewed my budget.
3. Your budget is long overdue for review:
What can you cut out? What do you need to allot more funds to? It’s best to be realistic. After being on a budget for a while you can tell what’s working and what’s not. You know where to shave off and where to beef up. Do you really need all that pizza? Must you be at Goldstone every week? Whether you decide to eat out less, to skip internet at home since you have access in the office, or to buy ebooks instead of paperbacks, taking out time to catch up with yourself financially, is more than worth it.
4. You can’t see the big picture.
What kind of life could you have if you stay debt-free, build up your savings and invest wisely? Would you own property? Would your children have a better education than you had? Would you be able to fund causes you’re passionate about? If you don’t stick to your budget, none of that is going to happen. So when you’re tempted to overspend, take a long hard look at your goals. If need be, hang an actual picture where you can see it.
5. You’re too rigid:
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build wealth and attain financial freedom, but if you allow this desire to take the fun and enjoyment out of living, it will backfire. Depriving yourself of all the things that bring you joy and give you pleasure is a good way to ensure that you’re fed up with your budget in no time. Include treats for yourself in your budget, and be sure to build in rewards for “good behaviour” along the way. You have only one life; you shall not pass by this way again.