Do you have a budget? You should! (Here’s why you should and how to create one).
Maybe you have a budget but your budget and your reality don’t always sync up. Basically, your budget is your best laid plans and your reality is that your budget is just a bit of busy work that gets thrown out the window each month the moment you walk away! I feel like this sometimes. Like we spend all this time on our budget. Doing the dirty work, having the discussions, only to discard all of that effort on a whim.
Here are some reasons your budget might not be working for you:
You are not being realistic:
Look, it would be GREAT if you could feed your family of 6 for $75 a week. That would be amazing! Just because it can be done (although I’d argue it shouldn’t be done longterm unless you have a rocking garden!) doesn’t mean you are doing it.
Let’s be honest about your shopping habits. Have you EVER walked out of your local grocery store spending less than $150 a week?
Then budget $150 a week.
If you spend only $75, perfect! Throw that money into savings!
Let’s be realistic though. Don’t create a budget where you pretend you won’t need new clothing a few times a year. Budget for clothes. Budget for entertainment. Budget for EVERYTHING. Be realistic. Don’t back yourself into a corner where breaking up with your budget is really the only realistic option to continue to live your life. Even Dave Ramsey suggests everyone sets aside some “blow money” if you can manage it!
Not staying vigilant:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you have to be vigilant. You HAVE to keep revisiting your budget! Talking about it. Tweaking it. Keeping great records. Categorizing new expenses. Looking at it, period!
Not negotiating lower rates:
Every year, certain companies love to jack up rates. They can do this because a huge percentage of people just accept it and pay the higher rate.
Don’t do this!
Your electric company raises rates? Call and request to go down to a lower rate. Shop around. Threaten to leave them, and actually LEAVE if you can find a better deal elsewhere! Don’t get stuck feeling like you are chained to your bills as if they are stagnate balls and chains. You have your non negotiables, but everything else is up for discussion.
Keep track of your rates in your budget planner and be sure to keep it updated so when you hear about a special, you can just take a quick glance at what you are currently paying. Here are some highly rated budget planners if you don’t already have one:
Not sticking to budgeted amounts:
This plays into not being realistic. However, sometimes your numbers ARE realistic, you just aren’t sticking to them. Look, if you want to spend more money on clothes, and you are already budgeting a realistic amount each month to spend, then you either need to get another job, or start shopping at cheaper stores.
If you budget to a $0 balance, straying from a budget amount means you are robbing another category of funds. Which basically throws everything off!
Not viewing the budget as a living breathing revolving set of guidelines:
This seems kind of redundant. This falls a bit under vigilance and being realistic. Realistically, you have to remain vigilant so you can see when your budget needs revamping.
It WILL happen.
Your bills will go up, normal inflation, someone will lose a job, someone will get a raise, you will use a large chunk of your emergency fund. The budget is not stagnate and you need to understand that!
Once you do, the weekly/monthly discussions will be easier because you’ll have a more open mind about adjusting things where necessary.
Have you fallen into any of these budgeting mistake traps? Comment below!