You’re committed to getting your finances on track and know that budgeting is a big part of that.
But what happens when budget challenges come up? How are you going to stay focused?
It can be hard to keep going when it feels like there’s always a bump in the road.
Sometimes it feels as though you are putting in all of the hard work and your spouse isn’t.
Sometimes it feels as though you are doing really well, and then something comes up that knocks you off from where you’re meant to be.
When you’ve just started budgeting it can be hard to know what to do when these things happen.
Seasoned budgeters know that you just need to keep going, but there are certain things to put in place to help you out.
In this article, we will take a look at the biggest budgeting challenges, problems with budgeting, and how to stick to budgeting.
If you’re ready to start a budget you can finally stick to let’s dive in!
10 Biggest Budgeting Challenges
We will take a look at the 10 biggest budgeting challenges and what you can do if you find yourself in that situation.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in any struggles that you find yourself in on your budgeting journey.
Some of them may be things that you need to do personally, whereas some may be things that you and your partner need to do together.
Challenge 1 – Getting Both Spouses on Board
When you have made the decision that you want to make a change to your financial situation, that doesn’t mean that your partner has as well.
There can be quite a lot of resistance there if your partner feels as though you are trying to say that they need to change their lifestyle.
You must make this decision jointly, or else it may feel to one partner as though things aren’t going their way.
If your partner (or yourself if it’s the other way around) likes their lifestyle as it is, they may not appreciate you saying that they need to stop doing the things they love.
This is particularly true if there is a bit of an overspending problem happening, because if they are having fun then they may not want to stop this.
When you decide that you want to make some changes to your finances and budget, this needs to be a joint decision.
It’s always tough to get someone to change their lifestyle, and it helps if they are as excited about it as you are.
But how to get them as excited as you?
The reason that you’re all fired up about these new changes is that you can see a better future ahead. This is what you need to discuss with your partner.
The best way to do this is to sit down together and have a meeting about your goals.
Talk through the way that you’d like your life to look like in the future, and how you’d like your life to look now.
It is very important that you are both on the same page and working towards the same goals, or you could hold each other back. This is especially important if you have debt to pay off.
Make sure that you are both excited about working on your joint goals and will be able to support each other.
We created a Marriage & Money Boot Camp to help you and your spouse WIN with money together! Click here to grab a copy now.
Challenge 2 – The All-or-Nothing Mentality
This is something that we find is quite common in the personal finance space.
When it comes to starting something new, there is a lot of resistance there.
When we look at all of the new things that we have to do – and some may not be that fun – and decide maybe we don’t want to do it after all.
On the other hand, some people are happy to go all-in and throw themselves at it.
It’s best to be as dedicated as possible, but you can go gentle on yourself and ease yourself in.
There doesn’t need to be an all or nothing mentality when it comes to budgeting.
It will take time to get to where you want to be, and no-one is 100% perfect with their budget 100% of the time.
The most important thing is that you take positive steps forward to where you want to be.
Challenge 3 – It Takes Too Much Time
If you’ve never budgeted before, then the whole budgeting process may feel tedious to you.
When you are first starting to budget then there is a lot of work you have to put in upfront.
The most important thing about your budget is making sure you use realistic numbers.
The way to use realistic numbers is to go back through your previous spending and add it all up.
Yes, not the most thrilling sounding task ever!
It’s worth remembering though, that this is just the initial work. When you have done this, it will become easier and less to do overtime.
You will still have to put in work on your budget, but hopefully, you will start to look forward to doing your budget.
Challenge 4 – Not Knowing How Much to Spend
As we’ve gone over, the best thing to do is to add up all of your previous spending and work out your budget from there.
Even when you’ve done this and you’ve subtracted your expenses from your income, it can still be confusing knowing how much you can spend.
If you haven’t done this, it’s even more confusing!
We recommend you “pay yourself first” and budget what is left. Meaning you take the amount you want to save, invest, and pay off debt with and the rest goes to your living expenses.
This will force you to always meet your financial goals and make you think outside of the box when there is not enough money to go around.
Another good option is looking at some budget percentages to see how your spending stacks up to the recommended amount.
You can cut back as much as you want but sometimes it’s important to look for ways to increase your income as well.
Challenge 5 – Irregular Income
One of the most common concerns that come up when people are starting budgeting, is what to do with irregular income.
Budgeting can be easier when your income is the same each month, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it if your income varies.
There are lots of jobs out there where the income varies each pay.
Examples of these are jobs such as waitressing or hairdressing. There are a lot of tips involved in these jobs, hence why income can vary.
Not only that, but there are a lot of jobs where you’d perhaps do one big project over several months.
With irregular income, one of the best things that you can do is to budget using the lowest amount of income that you expect.
Also with budgeting, it’s always advised to try and get one month ahead so that you know in advance how much you have.
Challenge 6 – Saying NO and Stop Impulse Spending
When you’ve been used to saying yes to everything, changing this can require a lot of effort.
If your friends are asking if you want to go out and do things socially, saying no can make you feel bad.
Impulse spending is something that’s more of a habit. It’s automatic – we don’t tend to have a big thought process when it comes to this.
There are a few things that you can do to help with impulse spending:
- Identify your triggers. What things make you want to spend?
- Don’t take your bank card out with you
- If you are going to buy something, only take enough for that item
- Write down a list of all of your ‘wants’ and wait a certain amount of time to think about them before purchasing
- Avoid the shops
- Remove your payment information from sites you purchase from often
When it comes to saying no, stopping impulse spending is you saying no to yourself.
You may find it harder, however, to say no to your friends and loved ones.
You could get asked to do things that aren’t in your budget, and in the past may have said yes to everything.
Saying no to people is going to be something that takes practice and time, but let them know about your goals.
If they are your good friends, then sit them down and have a chat about your finances. Let them know that there’s going to be things that you can’t do because of this.
You never know, you could inspire them to do the same!
Challenge 7 – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out/Feeling Like You Are Giving Up All Fun)
This is similar to saying no to people. When your friends are asking you to do things and you say no, it can feel as though you are missing out.
If you haven’t followed a budget before, you may think budgeting sounds like the least fun thing ever.
The funny thing is, budgeting can make your life more fun. It can make it so much better!
You get paid a certain amount of income each month. It’s up to you to decide what that money is getting used for.
If there are big important goals that you are set on, this could be more important than other things. It’s all about your priorities.
Even if your friends don’t understand (they may be in a different headspace), they should respect your wishes and support you on your journey.
There are lots of things that you can do together within your budget, such as pot lucks or going out to the park to hang out.
Challenge 8 – Learning How to Meal Plan and Cook From Home
One of the biggest challenges that people face when starting to budget, is how expensive their food budget is.
When you are used to eating out often or just grabbing take-out whenever you need to eat, this can be a big change to get used to.
Meal planning and cooking from home will save you a lot of money over time.
Similar to budgeting, meal planning is easier once you have the first step up part done.
Meal planning is something that will help you save money and also have less stress.
There will be no more worrying over what you are going to be cooking that day or not having the correct ingredients in.
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated or cooking fancy gourmet meals every night.
There are some simple steps that you can take to start meal planning now:
- Write out a list of all of the meals that you like to eat
- Decide which days you want to have them
- Plan some easy meals when you need to grab something e.g. frozen pizza
- Plan some days for take-out or going out to eat if you think that you will want it
- Do an inventory of everything that you currently have in your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry
- Write out all of the ingredients that you need to make the meals you’ve written down
- Compare the list of the ingredients you already have, with the ingredients that you need to buy. The items that you don’t already have make up your shopping list!
Challenge 9 – Dealing With Emergencies
One of the biggest budgeting challenges that come up is dealing with emergencies.
The thing with emergencies is that you can’t prepare for them. Or can you?
Truth is, there will always be an emergency that comes up. The best thing to do is accept this, and plan for them.
The last thing you want to worry about when an emergency happens is how you are going to pay for it.
We suggest building up an emergency fund of at least $1,000, but you will probably want to build that up over time.
Make sure that it truly is an emergency when you go to use your fund. Things like nights out or bachelorette parties don’t count!
Challenge 10 – Making it a Habit You Stick With
As much as you are full of motivation at the beginning of starting something new, this can taper out over time.
Creating positive habits is important because once it’s a habit, you will do it on auto-pilot.
There are some easy ways that you can get started with creating these budgeting habits:
- Make it fun! You can do this by using aesthetically pleasing budget templates, budget planners, stickers, etc
- Plan a time of the day that you will sit down to work on your budget
- Create a vision board so you can keep your mind on the end goal
How Do You Overcome Budgeting Challenges?
To overcome budgeting challenges you need to remember that they are completely normal.
Don’t let challenges of budgeting stop you from following the path that you are on.
If you look at highly successful people, they don’t always have things that go completely perfectly. They just keep going no matter what.
Creating positive habits and making budgeting fun will make it much easier.