Having a budget is one reliable way to make sure your money is working for you and you are never broke. Many times, however, it can be so hard to stick to that budget. At the end of the month, when you look at your account balance you wonder where all your money went.
A budget, simply put, is how much money you intend to spend compared to how much money you make. It is no good, however, if you cannot stick to it. Here are 9 possible reasons why your budget is not working for you and ways to solve them;
9 Ways To Make Your Budget Work For You
1. Track Your Spending
If you don’t know how much money you spend monthly, you can never draw up a successful budget. You have to know where you spend money and how much you usually spend to know where to start. Analyse at least 3 months worth of past spending to know how to draft your budget.
If you also don’t track your spending while working with your budget, you will fall short. You have to follow your budget to have it work for you. Keeping tabs on how much money you have spent as you go through the month is important.
To help you track your spending, frequently go back to your budget to see how you’re doing. You need to know how much money you have left in each category to know when to stop spending. For instance, if you have spent more than half of your transport budget before half of the month has passed, you need to slow down on your spending.
“The major issue I had with living on a budget was tracking my expenses. I was spending and not going back to see if I was still on track. This affected me. After a while, I decided I couldn’t go on like that anymore so I’m more intentional about tracking now.”TEMITope, it professional
2. Create a Realistic Budget
In a bid to put yourself on a budget, sometimes you end up making it unrealistic. One mistake many people make is going from having no budget to trying to cut down on spending drastically.
No matter how tempting it might be, never cut down your spending so much so that it becomes unrealistic. This is especially true for expenses that are not fixed. If you are not sure how much something will cost each month, you should budget higher for it.
Also, for expenses you have control over, like feeding, don’t try to go from spending N50,000 on it to spending N30,000 suddenly. Always cut down all your expenses realistically.
“To make my budget work for me, the major thing I did was cut down on unnecessary expenses. Anything that wasn’t a need was removed.”corvIn, animator
3. Cut Down On Your Expenses
Sometimes, the reason your budget isn’t working for you is that you are spending more than you are earning. If you always try to live above your means, you will keep ending up broke. Your budget is more problem, your spending is.
You need to go over your spending and look for areas to cut off expenses from. If you’re spending too much on housing, feeding or transport, it is time to review your spending habits or opt for more affordable options.
If, however, you find that no matter how much you cut off from your spending you are still always in the red, it might be time to focus on your income. As a fashion entrepreneur, there are many side hustles in the fashion industry that you can try out.
4. Have an Emergency Fund
Emergencies always happen in life. They’re inevitable. If you don’t have an emergency fund and something comes up you can easily be thrown off budget. You could fall sick, have a car accident or need to fix something in your house urgently. An emergency fund will help with this.
It is advisable to save up to 3 to 6 months worth of your living expenses as an emergency fund. This will help you be able to handle emergencies without messing up your budget plans.
5. Budget For Irregular Expenses
Some expenses do not occur every month. They occur annually or bi-annually and it is easy to forget about them. When planning, always keep in mind those expenses that are irregular and plan towards them.
For instance, birthday celebrations, the Christmas season, and so on. Depending on their frequency, you can divide these expenses by 12 or 6 and include them in your monthly budget. This will help you have more for them when the time comes instead of being caught off-guard.
These expenses do not count as emergencies so you should not take them out of your emergency fund. As you consistently save you for them during the year, it will be easy to spend that money when the time comes.
6. Learn to Say “No”
Learning to say no to yourself sometimes is an important part of sticking to your budget. To make it work for you you have to practice self-control. You cannot give in to impulse or unnecessary purchases.
Before you make any purchases, go back to your budget and see if you can afford it. To avoid impulse spending, don’t put yourself in any position that will make you want to spend more than you should. Avoid your favourite stores and websites and keep your eyes on the goal.
This does not mean you should not spend money on yourself. It just means that you have to control how much money you spend on yourself.
7. Budget For Fun Activities
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. As a fashion entrepreneur, don’t forget to give space for fun activities in your budget. If you only plan for other expenses you consider ‘needs’, you will soon start resenting budgeting. As far as you have some money to spare, give room for fun.
When you know you have set aside money for things you enjoy doing, sticking to your budget will be much easier. Things related to your hobbies, eating out, and hanging out with friends should be part of your plans.
Just remember that in some months you might have to sacrifice fun for other things, but don’t make it a habit. If your income can’t support fun then find ways to make more money.
8. Adjust Your Budget Frequently
Your budget would not be cast in stone. It is a living document and should be reviewed from time to time. Sometimes, working with the same budget even when things have changed makes it hard to stick to it.
When things happen in your life, adjust your budget to suit them. The more you learn about your spending habits, the more you should adjust that budget. If your income or expenses increase, let it reflect there. Major life changes like marriage, childbirth, and so on should also inform a change in your plans.
9. Remember to Include All Expenses
One major reason why budgets fail is that you are forgetting some expenses. If it does not capture all of your monthly expenses then it will not work. Things like Netflix subscription, cable tv and so on should all be factored into your expenses.
A great way to do this is to go through all of your bank transaction details, old receipts, and so on to see what comes up every month. As you highlight these recurring payments, no matter how small, include them in your budget.
Following a budget might be hard for you but with time it gets easier. No matter how tempting it might be, don’t give up on it. With regular practice and enough time, it’ll begin to work in your favour.