Whether the goal of your budget is to save up, pay debt down or mange regular expenses, the idea is the same – it needs to function well – blindly spending doesn’t work for long. If your budget just isn’t doing the trick we’ve put together some common troubleshooting areas where most people run into trouble with their budgets. Read below for some helpful hints to get you back on track:
You’re putting it off – Once you’ve got your budget set up decide on a date you’ll start from and stick to it! Pushing off buckling down will only make it harder to get going. Be sure to give yourself enough time to really give it a try before you decide budgeting is not for you. It could take a month or three to adjust, especially if you’re looking at some major money changes.
You didn’t keep track – Unfortunately it’s not as easy as jotting down the figures you hope to spend within and walking away. You’ll never know how you’re doing with your budget if you don’t keep track. If hanging onto receipts or paperwork isn’t for you then you may want to try using a budgeting app to sort your budget as you go.
You forgot to include some costs – Not every month will be exactly the same. Be sure to account and set aside for expenses that are annual, semi-annual and outright irregular that can (and will!) come up. Set up a separate savings account so the money doesn’t get spent accidentally.
You haven’t adjusted it – No matter how long you’ve been budgeting, you’ll need to periodically check-in to see how everything is working for you and make needed adjustments. Maybe now that you’re keeping track you realize you spent more on transportation costs than you initially though or you find that every month part of your grocery allowance is in actuality going towards a weekly sushi take-out order. Modify as needed so that your budget is as accurate as possible.
You can’t say no – Staying on track will inevitably mean saying no from time to time, whether it be to friends wanting you to come along on an unplanned excursion or to a purchase that’s caught your eye. Combining a savings component AND some self-control will do wonders.
You’re being hard on yourself – Particularly in the beginning, don’t beat yourself up if you’re over-budget. Take a look at why and if you need to work on some areas do your best, also be sure to leave reasonable room for fun activities! Budgeting is supposed to be a tool, not a restriction – so use it to your benefit.
Your expenses outweigh your income – Here’s where it can get frustrating. If you’re faced with more costs than income, generally it’s easiest to scale back on the expenses as much as possible; next try to think of how you can increase your income. If that fails look at which expenses are causing the most hassle – if it’s your rent, consider whether it’s beneficial to move or even get a roommate – if it’s debt, look into solutions that reduce or eliminate it (such as a Consumer Proposal).
If your budget wasn’t working for you try some of the ideas above. It can be easy to get discouraged and abandon the idea of a budget altogether, but one of the major keys to healthy finances is a good budget – no matter what you’ve got to work with.