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Why I’m Learning to Stick To a Budget: Even Though I Don’t Have Money Problems

Twenty dollar bill laying on top of other bills flat on a table

I know this is not a sexy topic but I want to create and stick to a budget.

I say this year after year and while I have taken charge of my finances and my savings, actually sticking to a budget has continued to elude me. I want to conquer this, I want to figure this out, I’m doing this!

To be clear, this is not a "how to create a budget" post, it’s a "how to stick to a budget" post.

Having spent the last 6 months finally getting my time management and schedule mastered, I realized the main issues I had managing my time are the same shifts I need to make in order to manage my budget.

I finally see the light…ahhhhhhh… cue radiant light from above.

I’m going to apply these same shifts to my budget and I’m confident this will be the year I actually create and stick to one.

I have my financial house in decent order; I’m on track for goals and savings, so you might wonder why I care about following a budget.

The main reason I want to create and stick to a budget is to gain Freedom. I want to free up mind drama over money and spending. If I want to buy something expensive and it’s within my budget, I want to pull the trigger, guilt free. I also think knowing I can have it, will lessen my desire for the thing altogether.

Another reason I want to create and maintain a budget is to live more Intentionally. I can be more deliberate with my spending if I actually take a moment to think before I take action. If I look through my Amazon history, I can see so much money I have wasted on things not important to me,  when I consider the time it took to earn that money I know the exchange wasn’t worth it!

If you want to end all money drama, create and stick to a budget.

I’m not going to go into detail about how to create a budget here. I’m not a financial advisor and obviously this whole thing is about how I haven’t been able to stick to one myself, so who the heck am I to dole out the advice.

There are so many super smart money people out there, who offer free budgeting help, I’m sure you will have no issues getting your budget structure created if you need help. My two pieces of advice when it comes to creating your budget are, keep it very simple and track all your income and expenses. I haven’t stuck to a budget but I have tracked my spending for years, this is why I’m not totally out of control.

Let’s get to it. What am I going to do different this time around?

Be Realistic

The number one thing I learned in getting my schedule under my control was learning to be realistic.

I don’t know about you, but when I scheduled my time I was never realistic about how long something would take or how much I could really get done in a day. Money is just like time. We tend to under estimate how much we will need when we plan for spending.

My biggest issue was thinking I could cut way back in areas.

Of course on paper I think I will be perfect and never eat out or that I can cut my current grocery spend in half. In reality, I am going to eat out and I’m not going to buy non-organic food. I’m just not. But when faced with the amount of money I could save, I was lying to myself. So not helpful..

A budget is useless if not designed for your real life and the way you live.

Do What You Say You Will Do

The second thing I learned about managing my time was, actually doing what I said I would do. The best laid plans are meaningless if you don’t follow them and the same thing applies to your budget. If you say you will only spend X on clothes, only spend X on clothes.

I’m going to keep my budget really simple and review it each week to stay on track.

Plan for the Unexpected

Another thing I learned with time management was to build in time for unexpected stuff to happen, so again applying this gem to my budget plans, I’m adding in a decent amount for unexpected expenses. When something unexpected comes up like a fun weekend trip or an unexpected break down, I will be covered - within reason.

Change Your Mind-Set

The last piece of this puzzle is mind-set, of course. I’m going to be mindful of my money self-talk and notice thoughts like:

·         budgets are hard

·         budgets aren’t important

·         I don’t need a budget

And…in the moment, when I’m wanting to spend on something not on my budget I will catch myself thinking the inevitable thoughts like:

·         it’s okay, it’s only “X” amount of money

·         this “thing” is more important than sticking to my budget, right now

·         if I’d known this would occur, I would have budgeted for it anyway

·         I really need this right now

·         I want it

·         I deserve this

·         I work so hard

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you? I plan to budget for the year and monthly so other than at those appointed times, I plan to stop thinking about spending money at all.

If faced with spending money not in my plan, I will practice thoughts like:

·         I will consider this next month, next year, just not now

·         when I look back at my spending, this purchase will be a regret, so no

·         no

·         I don’t need or want this as much as I want to be successful at budgeting

SO that is my Stick To... budgeting plan for the coming year. I hope to give you an update and announce how awesome I was and that I was able to stick to my budget.

If you are just getting started taking charge of you money I recommend you start tracking your spending right now. You have to face where you are in order to get where you want. Tracking your spending also allows you to set up a reasonable budget.

Good luck my friends!

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