“I hate budgeting!” “My budget does not work!” “I don’t need a budget!” How many times have I heard those! We all know that budgeting is the foundation for building wealth, but when your budget doesn’t work, it’s frustrating. You want to give up.
Most people try to correct problems by only taking care of the symptoms. We gain weight, so we buy baggy clothes. We don’t look successful to others, so we buy a new car. Our budget does not work, so we quit. We still gained weight, our success didn’t change, and our budget still doesn’t work.
You need to get to the root of your budgeting problems. A budgeting problem can be a perspective, person, or process problem. Getting to the root of your problem can help you fix a budget that isn’t working. Here are some examples of what each type of problem can look like and how to deal with them.
You have a perspective problem with doing a budget when you say things like, “It’s too hard for me because I’m not good at math.” You are being apathetic to budgeting. Budgeting is 4th grade math! You need to get over your apathy because the data that’s out there says that people who do budgets win with money.
People problems are when people around us cause budgeting issues for us. We can’t go through this life and not interact with people, because we don’t live on a desert island by ourselves. We interact with people, and these interactions cause stress on our budgets. You need to be aware of this, and you need to know how to deal with this.
If you’re married, your spouse is going to be the main person you interact with throughout your life. You need to work together with your spouse. Work as a team and not against each other as adversaries. One spouse can’t want to go this direction and the other spouse go that direction. You can’t have money going out in different directions and think you will build wealth. If you’re single, find an accountability partner who can tell you “no”. Find someone you trust. Show them your budgeting plan, and then when you want to change your plans through the month run it by your accountability partner to see what they think.
Friends and extended family can cause people problems for your budget. Maybe your extended family or some friends guilt you into going on a European vacation that you cannot afford. They put so much pressure on you that you reach for a credit card in order to give the appearance of being wealthy. This can also cause future problems with your budget since now you have additional debt that you need to take care of. These are some of the harder issues to deal with. The result is that your friends and family are dictating what you spend your money on, and they don’t care what your plan is. You need to consider breaking off some of these relationships. They do not have your best interest in mind, but as I said, it’s hard.
Process problems with your budget are mechanical issues, and these can be the easiest to fix. One example of a process problem is where people say, “If I try budgeting it might not work.” Are you meeting your financial goals by doing what you’re already doing? If you’re not, if you continue the same path that you’re on now, I can guarantee you that you will have the same results that you have now. You can continue to not do a budget because it might not work, or you can try to do a budget because it just might work.
Another example of a process problem is your budget isn’t working for you although you think you have all your expenses listed. It could be that you forget the future expenses in your budget. When it comes time to take your summer vacation, you do not have the money saved, so you reach for a credit card because you forgot to budget for it the previous 12 months. Or you forget that Christmas comes in December, so you bust your budget that month. Again, the good news is this is one of the easiest problems to fix. Someone just needs to show you that you are missing this information in your budget, or you need to remember for the next time, and the problem can be resolved. Budgeting can take time to get it to work.
No matter what your budgeting problems are, don’t take care of the symptoms. Get to the root of your problem. Don’t be apathetic. Don’t let others determine where your money should go. When you encounter mechanical issues with your budget, correct them and work through them. Your budget is your monthly financial plan, so get this right, and you can build wealth.