Have you ever started a personal budget only to find after a few months that you have lost interest, or it is not working for you anymore? You are not alone. It happens to a lot of people. Kate Kaden, a social media champion of frugal living and Town & Country partner, recently shared 10 reasons why your budget may not be as effective as you would like.
1. Your budget isn’t written down or typed out.
Mental math is not enough. You must write your budget out and see the numbers in front of you to be sure that you are reaching your financial goals.
2. You don’t know how much you actually take home.
What your salary is vs. what you take home are two different things. Know the number that hits your accounts each paycheck to budget effectively.
3. You’re not customizing it for yourself.
There are many budget methods out there including the 50/30/20, the envelope method, and the zero-based budget. No matter what anyone says, choose the budget method that feels and works best for you and the way you think.
4. You don’t have a unique monthly budget.
This can change the game. The same monthly budget may not serve you well. By planning your budget for what will uniquely happen each month may help you be better prepared for periodic expenses and save even more.
5. You’re not prioritizing your savings.
Keep savings at the top of your list for the things that are important to you. A budget helps you live below your means so you can keep your eyes on the prize and save for what you want most in your life.
6. You don’t track all of your expenses.
Many people struggle with this step, but it is crucial in reconciling your budget. If you make a good plan, but don’t track your money, you are possibly either leaving money on the table that can be better spent elsewhere, or you might be overspending, but not know it until it’s too late.
7. You disregard irregular expenses.
There are some things that come up that aren’t a regular expense we forget about. Perhaps fundraisers, school photos for your child, etc. For this, consider building a budget buffer. A budget buffer is one month of expenses in your checking account at all times to catch anything that comes up in a pinch.
8. You don’t budget for the unexpected.
Tires will blow. Dishwashers break. Medical emergencies happen. For the hard, big emergencies like job loss and medical emergencies, build up an emergency fund over time to minimize the impact of these financially challenging times. Commit to creating an emergency savings fund of 3-6 months to cover any disaster or challenging period of time.
9. You don’t adjust your budget as the month goes on.
A budget is something you don’t want to “set it and forget it” at the start of the month. For example, if you budget $100 for gas, but only spend $80. Plan to move that $20 into savings or wherever else that $20 can best serve your budget.
10. You disregard your budget that you took all that time to create.
Whatever you do, don’t forget about the budget you took so much time to create. As the days go on, it’s easy to just disregard your spending and think “oh I’ll just write it down later” or “I just won’t track that, what’s the big deal?” Budgeting takes several months of repetition to become a true, effective habit. Don’t give up! Stay with it! A budget is one sure way to help make your financial dreams come true.
You can see more of Kate Kaden’s frugal living tips every Friday on Town & Country’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you want some help with building a budget or have other questions about your personal finances, reach out to a Town & Country representative by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 800-649-3495 or book a consultation here.