“76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.” -CNN.com
It’s no secret that Americans struggle with managing money. In fact, “44 percent of US households are “liquid asset poor”. Meaning they have less than three months of savings.” (debt.com) In a society that encourages “instant gratification,” it’s hard to delay our current wants in order to protect our long term needs. Just the mention of the word budget immediately results in a constricted feeling for many people. For some of us, we have no problem creating a budget, we struggle with actually sticking within the numbers we’ve budgeted for. If that’s the case for you, here are three reasons you’re probably not sticking with your budget.
1. You haven’t defined your “why” or your big picture goal.
When you decide to start budgeting, it becomes a complete lifestyle change. You are required to make changes to your financial behavior. If you don’t have an important enough reason or vision for why you need to make these changes, you are less likely to stick with them. You have to have something you’re striving towards; whether that’s to get out of debt, buy a home, go on a nice vacation, retire early, etc. What reason do you have to temporarily sacrifice and restrict yourself?
2. You aren’t being realistic.
In order to create a budget that is realistic for you and your financial situation, you need to track your past expenses for the past 2-3 months. Use the average for each category to determine a realistic amount for you to budget for. If after reviewing, you see that you spend $150 on gas each month, then you need to start off budgeting for that amount. If you don’t have enough to cover your expenses, then scan your budget to find areas where you can cut back. You also need to be realistic with your time frame. Remember, it takes 90 days to create a budget that works. It’s a learning experience, and you only learn if you keep trying.It takes 90 days to create a budget that works Click To Tweet.
3. You don’t show up!
You can create the best budget in the world, but if you don’t actively involve yourself in the process there’s no point! No two months are the same, so every month needs a new budget. This doesn’t mean design a whole new template; it simply means the numbers need to be adjusted for the new month. Throughout the month you need to use budget controls. You need create an action plan for how you will stay on track. Your budget requires you to be present!
Editor’s note: Updated 3/8/17