This is a guest post by Caleb McElveen. Learn more about him at the end of the post.
So you’ve decided to start budgeting. Good. The first step to recovery is to admit there is a problem.
Honestly, creating your budget will be the easy part. As you sit down and assess all your numbers, you will begin to realize where you are wasting your hard earned money. A feeling of disgust will rush over you as you analyze each dime spent and recognize you could be saving a lot of money each month. If you only knew that all of the coffee stops and weekend adventures would eat away at your bank account. It is astonishing how much we continue to withhold our own financial information from ourselves.
Now you have decided to start a budget and take control of your finances. Frugal spending, wise saving and cutting back seems easy, and it can be. But just like any addiction or habit, controlling the emotional aspect can seem to be the biggest challenge. While you are budgeting you will be traveling a winding road of emotions. Some with the intention of derailing your budgeting efforts.
So let’s take a look at what you can expect emotionally while embarking on your budget expedition.
Excited and Hopeful
When you first begin your budget, you will be overcome with excitement and hope. You realize that your finances are in dire need of changes. These changes will help you better your credit score, increase your savings and help you reach your money goals. Why wouldn’t you have a sense eagerness to get started?
You should be excited about budgeting. It is going to benefit you in so many ways. When budgeting make sure to map out your goals and objectives. Short-term goals are always helpful in keeping you on track and your budgeting in perspective.
A few days/weeks in and you are feeling great. Why? Your budget is working. You have made cutbacks on wasteful spending. You have paid down some credit cards. You can now see some money in your savings. Your confidence in your budget is growing.
Confidence is key when budgeting. Being confident that you can stick to your new found financial strategy and maintaining good money management habits can help you see it through to the end. It is also crucial to keep yourself accountable throughout the process.
I will use a sports analogy for this emotion. If you ask any coach they will say the same thing- “the moment you become comfortable is the moment you begin to regress.”
Once we begin to see positive results in our budget, we become comfortable with our situation. You begin to see a little extra cash in your bank account. Some of your credit card balances are low. A savings account that was collecting dust is now able to collect some interest. This is when we become comfortable with our budget.
Why is feeling comfortable bad? A feeling of comfort will cause one to return to their old habits. It was your bad financial habits that caused your current money state. You might have made a temporary change but a permanent change is needed for success.
With a budget comes limitations. Meaning- if your budget doesn’t allow you to do something then you can’t do it.
This is somewhat of an inevitable emotion that you will experience while budgeting. Your friends may be loading up for a night out on the town, but your budget says you need to be home watching Netflix. You and your spouse might want to visit that fancy restaurant for date night, but your budget is telling you to cook at home. Is your favorite band coming to town? Maybe next time. Buying a home is your goal, not sitting front row at a concert.
You will hate your budget at times. This is when you need to take a step back and remind yourself on why you are budgeting. Nothing worth doing is easy. Cliche, I know. But it is true. So bettering your financial status is not going to be easy. But you can do it!
I can guarantee that you will break your budget. It is almost impossible not to do so. When you do, you will definitely feel guilty. You know you that your budget doesn’t allow for you to spend that extra money, as minor as it may be.
The good news, you know that you didn’t stick to your budget. It can be a friendly reminder that you need to remind yourself of why you are budgeting and your goals. It can be a blessing in disguise. The only problem arises when you consistently make mistakes when it comes to your budget.
Don’t get down on yourself if you break your budget. It is going to happen. Stay positive and gain your confidence back. Just continue to remind yourself why you are budgeting. It might help to do it daily.
Peaceful and Delighted
You have reached a goal. It is very rewarding to set a goal and see it through to the end. This is how you will feel when you create your budget goals and finally reach them. Maybe you bought a house. A car. Helped your child get into college. Or simply growing your emergency fund. Whatever your met goal may be, you are at peace that you were able to be diligent enough to reach it.
You should be delighted. Your budget worked. You met your goals. You know that if you stick to it there are no barriers to what you are able to accomplish. Take the time to celebrate your accomplishment, but only for a short time. Starting making new goals and determine how you are going to reach them.
Stick with your budget no matter what. If it even take reminding yourself daily to keep yourself accountable, do it. You will face many challenges while budgeting. Stay the course and fight through the emotions. It will pay off.
About the Author:
Caleb McElveen is a content specialist for Savings Thousands Radio hosted by Robert Palmer, a radio show providing consumer financial advice.