I would be lying to you if I told you that living by what I like to call a money map, or a “budget” is fun. And legit, sometimes it down right sucks! I don’t know about you, but for me that makes it is so HARD to stick to! I mean, good lordy, I had to call it anything other than a “budget” for my mind to accept that fact that having one was actually necessary haha! Around here we don’t budget…we map. 🙂
It typically goes something like this. At the beginning of the month you sit down with all of your numbers. You’re full of motivation and determination! You think, yaaasssss, we’re going to crush it this month! You meticulously list all of your expenses, draft up the perfect budget, and feel a sense of pride when you’re done.
But as the month continues and your pretty budget takes a beating, ALL of that motivation evaporates. And at the end of the month, you feel a sense of down right dread at the thought of going over the results. You’re like, what in the heck happened???
I can tell you EXACTLY what went wrong!
The #1 mistake we all make when we budget is failing to plan for life’s little “incidentals”. Think of it like staying at a hotel, when you check-in they usually charge a set amount to your credit card to cover incidentals like room service, pay per view, internet, etc. Basically things that pop up during your stay. Well life’s incidentals are the same way, they kinda pop up during your “stay”…because well, life happens.
Now these aren’t full blown emergencies, because those would be covered by your “emergency fund”…which you have right? *pointed stare*
-It’s the impromptu coffee date with an old friend after you swore to make your coffee at home.
-The forgotten birthday, which leads to a last minute gift purchase.
-Or forgetting it’s your turn to drive the carpool, so you underestimate your gas costs.
-The cutest shirt that you couldn’t leave the mall without.
-You forgot your lunch at home…again.
-You didn’t account for the hellish heat of summer driving your AC bill up to a gazillion dollars.
-You went on a shopping spree because you work hard and will do what you dang well please with your hard earned money! (No judgment here, everybody has these days haha!)
Gaaaaahhhhh, there are a million little incidentals that can and WILL pop up. And trust me they add up.
I’ve been budgeting for years and am a retired bean counter, and I STILL have total budget fails! Just last month, my 18 year old daughter called from college asking for extra money (honestly when are they NOT asking for money).
Ok no problemo! I send it…
Then my sisters dropped in for a surprise visit and we went out for an expensive sushi brunch….
Ummmmm, ok totally not planned, but I’m still doing all right…I think….
Hubby tells me that he needs food and drinks for the company potluck that’s scheduled for…THE NEXT DAY! Seriously husband?!?
And at the end of the month while on vacation, on a whim we rented a car for the week. Soooo yeah, by this point we had officially busted the budget.
So what did we do, throw the whole entire budget away and say screw it? Nope, nope and NOPE.
Unless you can see the future (If you can, will I win the lotto???), you probably won’t guess every little thing that will sneak up on you. So the next best thing is to be prepared for when it happens. Here are 3 super easy things I do to keep my budget in line WHILE keeping me from feeling restricted!
1. Have a small reserve – Again, this is NOT your emergency fund, but something along the lines of a “miscellaneous” fund. When you lay out your money map for the month, just set aside a small amount to cover all those little extras.
This accomplishes two things; first, it helps to eliminate the feeling of being restricted by a budget. No one wants to feel like they work waaayyyy too hard to earn them dollas’ and then don’t get to enjoy that shizzzz! YOLO friends…YOLO. Just knowing you have a plan in place to deal with those small unexpected items and sometimes rebellious moments of spending, encourages you to stick to your budget. Just trust me on this one, put some cash aside, you’ll thank me later.
Second, it keeps the rest of your dollars in line and working where you assigned them. Those pesky little suckas like to put in transfer requests all of the time!
Now keep in mind the money you set aside is strictly for those things that creep up on ya’, and NOT a sneaky new way to fund your purse addiction! NO, the 18th purse for the 3rd month in a row DOES NOT COUNT as a surprise lol, stop it baby girl, you ain’t foolin’ nobody!
2. Be Flexible – Yes, congratulations to you, you set a budget! And yes, the rest of the conventional “wisdom” out there tells you to stick strictly to that budget! But as you see, LIFE happens and even the best laid plans are put to the test.
Knowing this, it is important that you remain FLEXIBLE and realize that your money plan is a living thing, a working plan. It has to be cared for, tweaked, and adjusted…this is not a set it and forget it deal.
But Yvonne, didn’t you JUST tell me that you want my little money minions to stay in line where I budgeted them??? Why yes I did, and good on ya for paying attention!!! But again, ish happens and sometimes that requires you to be light on your feet.
So when you overspend on eating out, ahem not that I have experience in that, you simply need to adjust elsewhere. In this case, I would easily decrease my grocery budget for the period and walahhhhh budget REPARO…it’s fixed!!! (uh oh, is my Harry Potter obsesh hanging out again hehe)
3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – Lastly, do NOT for the life of me throw away the whole budget just because you went a little off plan this month!!! There is NO use to sit around beating the hell outta’ yourself and giving up on your budgeting.
Extend yourself a little grace, ask your money for forgiveness (seriously, you owe it an apology), dust yourself off and try again.
Wallowing in self pity won’t get you anywhere and going totally hog wild because your budgets blown sky high sure the hell won’t get you anywhere either! So suck it up and let’s move on. That’s my tough love for the day, cause we don’t do pity parties. 😉 #sorrynotsorry
Keeping it 100%, for the majority of us, budgeting is just like a trip to the dentist…a necessary evil. I mean, there are those out there who totally thrive on living with a budget…they also lose weight when they eat donuts and have morning breath that smells like roses. Whatever! I for dang sure ain’t one of them (ain’t IS a word thank you)!!! So having the right mindset about the budget breakers that are inevitable and a plan to handle them is key!
Remember…it’s SIMPLY a PLAN for your money, and everything does NOT always go according to plan (rain on your wedding day anyone?). So have a little chedda’ set to the side and be ready to reassign your little money minions when the need arises. In the end, if you completely derail the money train, it’s not the end of the world. Ish happens…deal with it, adjust your crown QUEEN and keep slayin’.