One thing is inevitable when budgeting- you will come up short of your targets at one time or another. When you first begin to budget, this is something that you will definitely encounter as you start to work out how much you actually spend on gin, as opposed to what you think you spend on gin. You can quickly be left thinking, why can’t I do this? Why can’t I stick to a budget? That’s the thing, budgeting is tough. There will be tears. There will be days when you wonder whether it’s even worth it. But it is, oh it is worth it. When the total money owed goes down, or the total money saved goes up, those figures will give you way more satisfaction than any purchase ever could. And the good thing is, if you have a bad month of budgeting, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you DO have what it takes to fix things the following month.
The real key to staying on track with your budget is saying no to yourself. Budgets often fail because of a lack of self-discipline, and if you can’t say no to yourself, a budget just won’t work because each and every month, you’ll be coming up short.
Your personal circumstances and budget plan will determine how often you have to say no to yourself. If you are on a budget because you want to reach some big savings goals, and you are financially stable- there is much more scope to say ‘yes’ to things that aren’t planned for in your budget, whether that’s a holiday or a material item. However, if you are in some serious debt and it is affecting your life, it’s important to exercise self-discipline and say no to things that are going to run your budget into the ground.
If you’re used to years of saying ‘yes’ to yourself and buying yourself everything that your heart desires, it can be extremely difficult to start saying no. Telling yourself that you can’t have what you want is like telling a toddler that they can’t have chocolate- you’re inner voice is probably going to be screaming “but I want it!!” When you feel like this, it’s so important to take a look at the bigger picture and what your goals are. Instead of feeling rubbish because you can’t have what you want right now at this very moment, stop and be proud of yourself for getting to where you are, and feel good about making the choice that keeps your budget on track and your debt-free date within reach.
When you are deliberating over whether to make an unplanned purchase that breaks your budget, think about how the purchase will set you back. Take some time to consider things like how long you would have to work for to make up the money lost, and what your new debt-free date would be if you made the purchase. Sometimes, you will be able to make back the money spent by earning some extra cash on the side, but if it’s a much bigger unplanned purchase- this could push your debt-free date back by months. It’s very easy to suffer from FOMO when budgeting, but always remember that you can treat yourself to that luxury holiday once you are out of debt.
If you’re struggling, it’s a good idea to have some safety nets that make saying no easier. You come home on a Friday, absolutely shattered and want a takeaway? Have some very quick ‘fakeaway’ options ready to go instead. That can be anything from a frozen homemade curry to a frozen pizza. If you’re tempted to stay for one more drink but it’s not planned for in your budget? Always get a glass of water instead. You can still stay out and socialise, but you’re not spending any more money and the water will help save you from a hangover. You need a new dress for a friend’s wedding? Say no to ASOS and head to the charity shops instead. The more you get into a habit of saying no to yourself, the easier it will become, and in no time you will be on cloud 9 when your goals are reached.
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