In the past few weeks, I have been struggling with what to do if a budget is not working for you? Why? Because after months of budgeting and expenditure tracking, I have realized that this is not working for me.
Unfortunately, I know I am not alone in this. Yes, I know how important budgeting is. It is one of the key steps to planning and managing your expenses because it helps you know where your money goes.
The problem is, something will come along and take you off the track. In my case, I seem to be too occupied doing I don’t know what. I will heap my receipts in my drawer and promise to input them at the end of the day or week. In the end, I have too many transactions to input and it wears me down.
Second, an expense will come along that I had not planned for and it takes me off my game. While I have been saving for emergencies, I will be struggling to refill my emergency savings after this and trying to keep up with whatever savings I had going on.
Third, I usually have a hard time working or concentrating in a perfectly neat and organized environment. I like papers, books, and items scattered all over my desk or working spaces. I will declutter my spaces and a few days later it’s back to being messy. I’d clean my desk and office when my former boss commented about the messiness and a day later I’d be back to having files and papers all over. The truth is, I liked it that way. And I always know where everything is when it’s like that. In my defense, I have read that people like me are creatives and geniuses. Following a carefully detailed budgeting system is not working for my brain.
So, after careful deliberation, I have realized that budgets do not work. Not for everyone, anyway. And certainly not for me. This is a step in the right direction, I think. At least I have realized what my problem is. Now, I can start working towards a working solution.
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What To Do If a Budget Is Not Working For You
Just because a budget doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you have to stop planning and managing your expenses and savings. You might not track them in the conventional way of apps, Excel, and Google Sheets. But there is a way to still work on financial success without a detailed budget.
Figure Out Why It’s Not Working
There are many reasons why your budget is not working. Is it your personality, like me, or you have not given it enough time? Maybe you are not following your budget or you have more expenses than your income.
If you just started budgeting a few weeks or months later, and it has nothing to do with your personality, try giving it more time. You can also try a different approach, like a budgeting app with automated updates. If your expenses are higher than your income, try to cut back on some of them, or get a side hustle for extra income.
Set Financial Goals
These will go a long way in ensuring that you meet your saving goals. If you are not keeping and following a detailed budget, the last thing you want is to have all your money going to unexplained expenses and have no savings or investments.
So, set SMART financial goals. That means your goals must be
- Realistic, and
Do you have your financial goals in order? Maybe you want to get rid of debt, save for a vacation, a significant house expense, retirement or invest in assets that give you passive income. The next step will help you.
Automate Your Savings
Do you know how much you need to put aside every month for all your savings and investments? When money comes in, your automated systems will send money to your emergency fund, pension, and other savings and investment accounts that you have.
If you have not automated, which could also come with hefty costs of fees with some banks, you can set reminders. For instance, on the last day of every month or by a certain day at the beginning of the month, you set aside a few hours to ensure you send money to all your savings accounts.
Such a strategy ensures that before spending, you have saved money for all your financial goals. Then, whatever is left, can go to your spending. Whatever percentage of your salary you set aside will depend on your particular situation. It could be 15%, 20%, or even 30%. Just ensure whatever you are left with covers your bills and other wants.
This was my previous strategy, and I am getting back to it now that I am struggling with a detailed budgeting system. I am always telling my friends that as long as I know I have saved and paid the bills, I can spend the rest of the money as I want. As long as I am not overspending and having to dip into my savings account to meet expenses. Unless it is an unplanned emergency, which I usually have an emergency fund for.
Have you experienced any problems with your budget and budgeting method? Share your experiences, thoughts, and how you overcame it all. I would like to hear from you!