Creating a budget is easy but sticking to it? Now, that’s the hard part. Most of us are guilty of making the commitment to spend less and save more, only to back-pedal later. Did you think you were the only one?
There are lots of budget challenges that people face while trying to find their way to financial freedom. You may have experienced one or more of them. You may even be dealing with one right now.
I sat down and thought about all the different reasons why it’s so hard to stick to a budget and I came up with 14 reasons/ excuses—’cause let’s be real, some are just excuses. I decided to break down this post into two parts and tackle seven for now.
So, here goes! Seven common budget challenges and how to overcome them.
7 Budget Challenges & How To Overcome Them
1. No Goals
In order to accomplish anything, you need to have a goal. How else will you know that you’ve achieved something?
The same can be said for your financial planning. Why do you want to start budgeting? How much do you want to save? How fast do you want to repay your debt?
You need to decide what you hope to achieve before you create your budget. Knowing this information helps you to stay focused and know when you have accomplished what you set out to do.
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2. Getting Your Family To Play Along
You may have decided that your family needs to cut back in order to meet certain financial goals but has your family agreed with that? Your significant other may be quite comfortable with their spending habits and your children…
Well, they probably don’t care.
This is possibly one of the biggest budget challenges. If you live in a household with others, you need everyone to be on-board with the financial plan otherwise, it just won’t work. But what do you do when you and your significant other are on two completely different pages when it comes to money?
Determine what your common goals are and where you both see your family in the future. More than likely, you will find some common ground. Having a reason behind your budget is a must. Without a goal, why are you even doing it?
After you agree with each other about what you are working towards, explain it to your kids, if they’re old enough. You don’t have to get into the specifics. Just let them know that things might change a little and how.
3. Worrying About What Others Will Think
Even adults suffer from peer pressure. Your friends invite you out and you know it’s not in your budget but you’re embarrassed to say no.
Explain to your friends and family that you are budgeting and only have a certain amount to spend on entertainment. Of course, there will be those that scoff at your good sense but to each their own! If they don’t support what you are trying to do, it doesn’t matter.
Instead of following along and going to the fancy restaurant they recommend. Make suggestions of your own. Have a list of cheap or free ways to have fun that you can lean on when necessary.
Don’t forego your budget because you are worried about what others will think. Remember your reason for doing it and let that be your motivation to ignore the voice in your head and keep going.
4. Feeling Deprived
This follows along nicely after that last point. You may feel like you are depriving yourself of the “good stuff” while you are budgeting. Following a financial plan does not mean that you can no longer enjoy nice things or have fun. It simply means that you find more economical ways to do those things.
Instead of a fancy dinner out, cook a nice meal at home. It will probably be healthier and you don’t have to worry about crowded restaurants and crappy service. There are plenty of fun, free or really cheap things to do locally. You just have to be resourceful and look for them.
5. Dreading Cooking
I can tell you that I am not one for spending long hours in the kitchen. It’s just not my favourite thing to do. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably hating the fact that being on a budget means more cooking at home.
This is certainly one of my biggest budget challenges but I have found a way to make it easier.
It’s a life-saver! Every week, sit down and decided what you are going to cook during the upcoming week. Then, write a list of groceries you need based on your meal plan.
You can take your planning one step further and prep your meals. If you can, cook meals ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Then, you have them already available during the week. When you come home after work, you don’t have to cook. Just take something out of the fridge and go!
You can still prep meals ahead of time even if you can’t fully cook the dish. What usually takes me the longest when cooking is chopping all the ingredients. You can certainly do this ahead of time. Wash and chop all the veggies you will need for your meals. Store them in paper-lined containers or Ziploc bags in the fridge. As you’re cooking, take out what you need and add them to your meals.
6. Unrealistic Planning
In order for your budget to work well, it needs to be realistic. You need to know exactly what your income and expenditure is. Don’t expect to change all of your spending habits overnight either or you’ll really be unhappy.
Track your spending for at least one month before you create a budget. Then, write down all sources of income and everything you spend money on.
Use this free Monthly Budget Workbook to get started on your financial plan.
After you see how much you spend, you can assess areas where you can cut back. Take a look at what you bought while you were tracking your spending. Is there anything you can reduce? Maybe make your own lunch to take to work or cut out cable and use Netflix. There are tons of ways to decrease expenses.
If you need more ideas, read 10 Money-Saving Tips Guaranteed To Help You Spend Less.
7. Sticking To It
The last on my list of the budget challenges that I’m going to mention now is actually sticking to your plan. This can be tough for most people because you need to give it time. Your finances won’t improve immediately just because you’ve implemented a budget.
When you find yourself wavering from your decision to follow your budget, remember why you started it. I’m going to keep coming back to that because it’s so important.
When you have no real motivation driving you, it’s easy to give up. Talk to your significant other and let them help you. Think about your future and how bright it looks with no more debt and a huge savings account. Hopefully that will be enough to spur you on.
Budget challenges will always present themselves but you just need to be prepared. A little planning goes a long way to overcome all the reasons you might have for not sticking to your plans.
Click here for the second part of this series: 7 More Budget Challenges And How To Overcome Them.
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