Have you ever drawn up a budget, told yourself that you’re going to stick to it, and at the end of the month, realised that you’ve blown it?
If you have, then you’re not alone!
Here’s why it’s easy to blow the budget.
Saving money is not about the numbers on a page.
The numbers are merely a tool – a useful tool, but still a tool. They are a way of measuring and and analysing your finances.
Saving money is not about good intentions, either.
Saving money is about positive actions we take each and every day.
Swearing that you will stop spending money on this or that doesn’t work unless you back that good intention with positive action.
We all have very good reasons for spending money on the things that we do.
Convenience is a good example of one of the underlying motivators that drive our spending habits. Our intention might be that we won’t buy takeaway or buy lunches at work, but we do, simply because we’ve run out of time or energy.
That’s a very compelling and justifiable reason not to change your spending pattern. You get to the end of the day, you’re tired, there’s no food in the fridge, and so despite good intentions, you order a pizza.
But at the end of the month, those pizzas have added up and the budget has been blown again.
how to stick to your budget
Success is all about focusing on positive action, not negative avoidance.
The question is not “how do I stop buying takeaway?” but “what are practical steps I can take as an alternative to takeaway on nights that I just don’t want to cook?”
Maybe your answer will be to stock the freezer with a few microwave meals. This isn’t an ideal meal, but we’re not aiming for perfect, we’re aiming for better than takeaway. It’s a viable alternative.
Or maybe your answer is to cook some casseroles in the slow cooker one weekend and freeze them in portion sizes.
Maybe you keep a few packets of two-minute noodles in the back of the cupboard. Or make an omelette or scrambled eggs on toast.
If you are trying to save on work lunches, then you focus on practical ways to take lunch to work, like taking leftovers, or preparing some lunch items on Sunday, or stacking the fridge at work with salad ingredients each Monday.
The point is to focus on the the positive steps you’re going to take as an alternative to your current spending habits.
And you know what?
The savings follow automatically.
Suddenly you are sticking to your budget.
Good money management involves two things: having a plan for your money and fostering frugal habits to make sure you’re spending less than you earn and achieving your money goals. When you do those two things, money management is no longer stressful – it’s a way of living your deepest values and meeting your goals in life.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.