Okay, this is my least favorite step. Probably because it’s where the rubber meets the road. I’m great at big talk, but not so great at sticking to the implementation of things.
This is SO necessary though and it will make or break your budgeting success. You HAVE to look at your budget often. You HAVE to be willing to reevaluate as often as possible. You HAVE to keep good detailed records. The longer you put off looking at your spending/budget, the more out of control it will become.
At LEAST once a month, sit down (if you are married, sit down with your spouse!) and go over things.
Wow, looks like we spent a lot on groceries this month. Why? Oh, we had our yearly neighborhood BBQ! Well, that’s a yearly expense, we need to work that into our budget. Oh look, we spent a LOT on clothes this month. Let’s be sure we hold off on spending anymore next month unless absolutely necessary.
Have I told y’all how much I hate this step? Having these money discussions can be uncomfortable. They demand accountability for your spending actions. As a natural spender constantly fighting to be a “natural” at being frugal, sometimes this is an ugly ugly reality check for me.
Sometimes I find that I need to read something inspiring to get me in the mood to tackle our finances. Here are some of my favorite financial/budgeting books:
You also want to sit down and have a discussion if something big changes. Insurance goes up, you buy a new car, you bring a new pet into the home, you get a raise (yey!), someone stops working, someone starts working, etc.
During these meetings, you can also check in on your savings. How is your emergency fund doing? Are you getting closer to your goal of fully funding it? Is it already full funded? Does it need to be replenished? Are you saving for a vacation? Is there anything you can cut to save more aggressively?
Having these conversations on a regular basis can take the sting out of them! Set aside time for budget meetings and make sure they actually happen. Control your money, life is too short to let it control you.
Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables