3 Reasons Why Your Budget Isn't Working And How To Fix It
When you think about the word 'budget', it has such a negative connotation associated with it, the same as treating it like that awful diet.
First things first, if it gives you that blah feeling, change the name. I personally like to address mine as my "glow up" plan because it holds me accountable and my dollars are flowing in my favor. I know you’re probably saying “I already tried, but it didn’t work.” Was it that it didn't work for you or was it that you weren’t realistic with it? Budgets work, but you have to be willing to be transparent with yourself. The goal is to have every dollar work for you vs. the other way around.
To be clear not every budgeting method works for everyone. You have to find your style and flow that works for you. Whether it’s the envelope method, the zero-sum method or the cash diet method something has got to stick. I personally like to use a little bit of all three based on my current system, it works and it makes sense. If you’re still figuring out why your budget is not working. Here are 3 possible reasons:
1. You didn't count all of your real expenses
Budgets are not meant to be restrictive. In fact, it’s an important document that tells you your input and output of funds. If you aren’t including things such as your Netflix, Hulu subscription or Tidal etc, you’re probably going to go over every month. If your monthly expenses aren’t real then your budget isn’t either. Just sayin’.
Make sure you take the time to add every single expense every month. A great way to do that is to take out a piece of paper and start looking at your debit and credit card recurring expenses. One of my favorite apps that can help you do that is Clarity Money. It identifies your recurring expenses once you connect all of your accounts and the best part is that you can click a button and they’ll even cancel them for you. Mint is another popular app to use.
2. Spending more than you’re making
Often we make the mistake of creating a budget where the income doesn’t match our expenditures. If your income doesn’t match, it’s time to not only go through your expenses to see what you need but also what you can live without. If you need every single item in your budget it’s time to decide how you can make extra money to cover your expenses so you’re not in the red all the time.
Making extra money can be as simple as selling the clothes in your closet on Poshmark or creating a side hustle that brings you an extra income. Figure out what you’re good at and start selling. It won’t hurt to start with a t-shirt shop via Spreadshirt without even having to hold inventory. Make those coins!
3. You forgot to make room for 'fun money'
If you have the cushion in your budget you should, of course, make a line item for 'fun money'.
Let’s keep it real here, no one wants to not have any money to do some of the things that they love. Every month, I allocate a specific amount of money in my budget for going out to eat, entertainment, etc. It allows me to not feel deprived as I pay my bills and prioritize paying down debt and saving money.
Note that although you have 'fun money', there are times where you will need to cut it down as you prioritize some of your other expenses, but the line item is there for you.
Budgeting is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing your money. Money can be an emotional trigger for most, but working through that towards changing your mindset and beliefs can help you as you move through your financial journey.
As you figure out what budgeting method works for you, remember that pivoting is ok. Pivoting is necessary for every aspect of your life when something is not working. Once you find something that is seamless for you, stick with it.
Article by Felicia Blaise, a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), Travel Strategist, and the Chief Budget Balancer. She helps millennials change they way they think about money so they can experience the world, not financial limits. Visit her website here.