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When I was in my early 20s, I had an epiphany and decided that I no longer wanted to spend frivolously and that I was going to start saving aggressively.  I became a completely different person; I got so fired up after I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, that I even wrote a letter to my parents detailing my new found knowledge and detailed plan to change my financial situation around.

After creating a big binder for me to house all of my financial documents and budget sheets, I was ready to go. I actually created my first budget and gave myself a pat on the back for following through with the plan. However, over the course of the first week or two, my excitement and motivation died down and shortly after, so did my efforts to budget.  This continued to happen for years to come.  It was a never ending cycle.  I was never able to stick with a budget for the life of me.

What happened? I dived all in, making sure that I would be able to stick to my goals but I was still unsuccessful. When I look back and think about what possibly went wrong, one thing keeps coming to mind.

I wasn’t realistic.  I created a super strict budget that didn’t allow any room for error or for any entertainment. It was boring and dry so I said to heck with budgeting.  Who was I trying to fool? I was in my early 20’s and loved to be on the scene.  I should have known I wasn’t going to be able to just cut that off cold turkey.

Have you ever tried budgeting just to throw in the towel shortly after starting?  It will continue to be a never ending cycle if you don’t take into consideration what I’m about to tell you.  There’s plenty of reasons why you keep losing in the game of budgeting, but I want to let you in on 6 of the top reasons so you’ll be much more prepared the next time around.

You’re not being realistic.

This is one of the main reasons why I couldn’t stick to a budget in the past.  I viewed budgeting kind of like I viewed dieting; I thought that if I restricted myself then I would see some results. This is where I was wrong.  You shouldn’t view a budget as a punishment or a restriction, but rather as a roadmap to where you want to be.  Your budget should still include funds for you to use to enjoy yourself, after all you’re human and need leisure time!  Remember to be realistic if you want to master the art of budgeting once and for all.

You like to overspend.

Bottom line is, you spend too much!  You have no self control whatsoever, and until you get that in line, then you’ll continue to have issues with budgeting and saving money.  This is one of the #1 reasons why people break their budgets each month.  The whole point of a budget is setting aside a certain amount for something and actually sticking to that amount.  Here’s a few ways that you can start to combat that spending issue.

  • Use cash only — When going out, try leaving your debit and credit cards at home and only carry a specific amount of cash with you.  For instance, if you’ve budgeted for $150 to go shopping with, then you should be going to the store with only that $150 in your purse.
  • Identify your triggers — When you tend to go overboard with spending, what’s going on at that particular time?  Do you use shopping as a way to cope with your feelings?  Do you shop out of boredom?  Once you’re able to recognize your patterns, you’ll be able to work towards eliminating these habits by replacing them with more positive actions that don’t cost you a penny.
  • Think about it — When it’s time for you to make a purchase, don’t make a decision right away. Leave the store and give yourself at least 24 hours to think about whether you really need it or not.  It’s only when you’ve given it a considerable amount of thought that you should return to the store, and that’s only if it fits into your budget and it is truly a NEED.  Often times, after thinking about it you may realize that it was just something that you wanted out of impulse.

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You have no accountability.

You can’t experience real growth if you don’t have any type of accountability.  You are more likely to commit to something if you have someone pushing you along the way.  You need someone who isn’t scared to check you and get all up in your ish.  If you’re single, you should ask a family member or friend that you trust to hold you accountable and help you make wiser financial decisions.  If you’re married, then you have your accountability partner right there in your home. Major win!  As you and your spouse should be on one accord concerning the finances, they are the best fit for the job.  Your spouse should be able to keep you on track and dedicated to the commitment that you made to yourself to do better.

You’re not being patient with yourself and the process.

It takes time!  You know that it didn’t take hours or days for you to form those habits that you currently have, so don’t expect everything to change overnight.  You have to allow yourself to make mistakes along the way.  Be gentle and patient with yourself during the process and keep pressing through.  Before you know it, you’ll be a budgeting machine!  Additionally, don’t be afraid to tweak your budget as you go.  Things change, so make sure those changes are accounted for in your budget.

You’re not putting it in writing.

You told yourself that you were going to start budgeting, but for some odd reason, you never wrote the plan down.  You haven’t been tracking any of your spending.  You claim that you’ve been “keeping track” in your head.  This is where you’ve been going wrong.  In order for something to stick, you have to have a written plan.  Writing it down turns your ideas into an actual plan for you to follow and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.  This will allow you to have something to come back to and review on a consistent basis.  A budget is not something that you write down once and forget about!  You have to make sure that you’re staying on track by taking inventory (I suggest reviewing at least once a week).

You don’t really want to do it.   

You know that you need to start budgeting but you’re not really feeling the idea of it.  Because you’re not feeling it, you have no excitement or actual desire to put in the work that’s needed.  If you’re lacking motivation, then you lack the commitment to making it work.  This will result in failure each and every time, I guarantee it.  You have to desire lasting change and once you have that desire, you’ll be that much closer to make budgeting a lifestyle.

Now let’s talk about it.  I’ve identified 6, but what’s some other reasons as to why you continue to struggle with budgeting?

Being aware of these reasons allow you to be more prepared from the beginning.  If you’re aware of your weaknesses, you can work on avoiding them completely and make real changes in your financial life.  It took me 8 years to get this budgeting thing right and I wrote this blog so that you don’t have to wait that long.

Sound off in the comments, I wanna hear from you!

P.S. If you thought that this was insanely awesome or made you think about someone that you know, please share this with them!