The holidays are over and now ‘this is the season for many to make the annual effort to improve their finances.
When you’re used to spending as you please, suddenly having to stick to a budget can seem frustrating and discouraging.
Maybe you’re used to shopping for pleasure or meeting friends for dinner. Now those activities might not fit in your budget. Maybe you are even starting to question your values now that you have to make choices about how you spend your money and therefore your time.
It can be scary. It’s no wonder that so many well intentioned New Years Resolutions fail before February.
When I posted our family budget, I was surprised by the number of people who either didn’t use a budget or who questioned whether we’d actually use the budget ourselves.
For my entire adult life, I’ve lived on a budget and I think a large part of why I’m so happy with my life so far is because I’ve lived on a budget. Living within my means has given me the freedom to take opportunities that otherwise would have been too scary for me.
I want you to have that same freedom. I want your budget this year to be the one that sticks.
Why We Live Below Our Means
Our budget has evolved over the years and is more a measure of how we want to spend our money than it is a source of deprivation.
We don’t live on a budget because we wouldn’t be able to get by without it. We live on a budget because it’s meant:
- that we get to the end of the month before we get to the end of the money;
- that we can pay our credit cards off in full each month;
- that we can afford to have a stay at home parent; and,
- that we are only a few short years away from being mortgage free.
We live within our means because we have aspirations.
Our budget is the tool that protects us from the mindless spending that stands between us and our goals.
Even with our frugal habits, If we let the budget slip for a couple of months I know how hard it is for us to get back on track. If you’ve just made huge changes to your spending I can only imagine how difficult it must seem right now.
Why Do YOU Want to Budget?
Unless you have an unlimited amount of money, living within your means will force you to make choices.
The game is to try to spend on what matters most to you and to skip the stuff you don’t value.
Every dollar you waste on something you don’t enjoy is a dollar that can’t be put towards your passion and those things to you do enjoy.
You might find that you get pretty creative trying to solve your problems for free before buying new products or paying for help. You might even find that you challenge yourself to try things you didn’t think would be possible for you.
If you don’t stick to your budget you’re only cheating yourself from the dreams you’ve set. You’ll be accountable to no one but yourself for the consequences of not following through with your plans.
You may need to be honest with yourself about how committed you are to reaching each of your goals. If you’ve had trouble sticking with a budget in the past, you should reconsider your motivations for changing your spending habits.
Budgeting and living within your means is about finding out what really drives you and choosing to focus on whatever that is. When you’re working towards a goal that you truly believe in, small sacrifices become easy to make.
Change Doesn’t Happen Over Night
You are not perfect. Neither am I. We’re both going to make mistakes and stray from our budget sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that we should give up.
When we over spend, we have two options:
- we can cut back next month to get back on track or
- if we’ve repeatedly had an issue we can re-evaluate our priorities and our goals and update our budget.
Our budget looks very different now than it did even a few years ago. It keeps evolving and improving as our lives and our priorities change.
Even the budget I posted just this month has signs that our budget is always changing. Our budget for cell phones included a note that I would be switching to a pay as you go plan.
If you find yourself overspending, don’t give up on your budget. Keep going. Moving forward is the only way to reach your goals.
Setting your budget is not a life or death matter. But deciding to question your spending and choosing to focus on achieving the goals that are important to you could be a life changing decision.
If you’re starting to use a budget to get your spending on track, don’t miss this opportunity to figure out the goals that are important to you and work them into your budget.
Tracking your progress to your goals will remind you why you’re living on your budget and that might be all that it takes to make this budget the one that sticks.
What About You?
Why do you want a budget?
What financial goals are you working towards?
How do you get past budget stumbles?
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*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Autoimmune-Protocolling Around the World*