Is Your Budget Killing You?
If you saw that title and though, ‘Ha! I wish I had a budget!’ then you should probably start here. For everyone else, I think it’s high time we took a long hard look at the way we’re managing money thus far. One of the things that happens when you become conscious of how much you’re spending is that you over compensate for the bad years by seriously scaling back. There’s nothing wrong with scaling back but if your budget is making you miserable, I can tell you for a fact that it isn’t working. The reason I had to step back and look at my budget again this month is because it just got to the point where it wasn’t working anymore. My needs have changed but my budget hadn’t so it was really tough figuring out why the money was stretching so thin. You need to rework your budget if:
You’ve had a big life change
For us, it was the baby who came with a live in nanny. We’ve had to reevaluate a lot of expenses. Even more challenging has been that the baby has predictable and unpredictable expenses. I can’t even tell you what that does to the pocket. So while finances are still adjusting to the new life, I’m more comfortable switching certain figures around. Basically, if something comes up and I have to spend a little extra I make a note of it so that it doesn’t happen again the next month. Wherever possible I try to throw little amounts of money into my Mshwari for emergencies. I can’t tell you how many times this particular trick has saved me.
You always spend over budget
If your budget isn’t working, a pretty big indicator will be that no matter how well you plan, you always end up with far less than you anticipated. For me, I realised I was over-saving. And yes, there is such a thing. You can’t over invest in the the future if you’re barely surviving now. Being frugal does not mean being unhappy. It just means being smart. Personally, savings is a thing I do but stopped taking too seriously. It became a stress point. Now I have a minimum that I will save and a maximum as well. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, what if that future never comes? This doesn’t mean that you should be reckless and stop saving entirely. It just means that you need to strive for some sort of balance that keeps you in mind. After all, you’re the one working for that money!
You’re just happy
Budgeting, frugal living, being thrifty and all the words associated with spending less should not be making you unhappy. If you’re starting to resent your budget because you feel like it’s ‘taking things away from you’ then you need to reevaluate it. You also need to understand that sometimes you will need to make tough cuts in order to reach a financial goal e.g. clearing a debt. At the same time, you need to realise that you’re the one who spends 40+ hours making that money so if you don’t feel like it’s serving you, you’re not planning for it right. It’s a fine balance between being good to yourself now and being good to your future self. In the budget template, that’s exactly what the ‘treat yo’self’ section is for! Money that no one can ask you shit about. It’s yours. Do whatever the hell you want and no questions – not even your spouse. Always remember to be kind to yourself.
Are you feeling re-energized enough to start budgeting right? Let me know how it goes!