You blew it. You went over your allotted spending amount, and now your monthly budget is all out of whack. Again.
Do you feel like this happens to you a lot? Like you’re never going to actually be on budget? Don’t stress. It’s not just you. Anyone with a budget has gone over at least once, if not multiple times. But that’s what adulting is all about—learning to get a handle on your finances.
Budgeting is not easy, but it’s not necessarily for finance pros either. It’s a skill. And it will only get better with practice.
If you find yourself going over your budget quite frequently, maybe it’s time to step back and consider asking yourself a few questions:
1. What goals am I working towards that require me to save money?
Saving for a house? Your kid’s college fund? Retirement? A pair of Yeezys? Sweet.
Find out which of these goals are most important to you, and ask yourself why you are saving for that specific thing. There may be more wiggle room in your savings account than you thought.
Maybe your company offers 401k benefits, in which case you don’t necessarily need an additional retirement fund. Maybe you don’t actually need a pair of Yeezys. Or buy the Yeezys and teach your kid something about finances by making them pay for their own college education. Whatever works best for you.
2. What am I getting out of the money I’m spending?
If you’re constantly going over on your budget each month, chances are, you’re over spending. Take a step back and look at your biggest bills: your car payment, your rent, utilities, gas, etc. What are you gaining from these things?
Obviously we’re not recommending you live on the streets and walk 15 miles to work every morning, but consider the price you’re currently paying for rent. Could you opt for a couple of roommates to lower the cost? Maybe consider moving closer to work to save gas.
Sometimes the money you’re spending isn’t totally necessary. Which brings us to:
3. What can I cut out?
You have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, the Sunday Ticket, Spotify AND Apple Music (you and your wife just can’t agree on which is better) and your theme park annual passes are sitting in your pocket collecting dust. Consider cutting out a few subscriptions that you know you don’t care as much about (gym membership, we’re looking at you).
Something else to consider: Try to make your coffee from home instead of going to Starbucks every morning. Easier said than done, but it will save you at least $3-5 per day, which adds up quick.
4. Do I need to change my budget or my spending?
Maybe spending isn’t your main problem. Take a look at your overall budget. Is it unrealistic? Allow yourself wiggle room where you feel like it’s needed. Maybe you don’t need to be saving half of your overall income. Or maybe your bi-weekly Target budget can be knocked down a couple (hundred) bucks.
5. Is there a way I can supplement my income?
Have you considered a side-hustle? Maybe your 9-5 takes all your energy, but you love painting every day when you get home. Create an Etsy shop for some additional income. This will help supplement your income which allows you to really stretch your budget.
Overall, it’s okay to go over budget every now and again. Everyone does. But when you find yourself going over frequently, step back and ask yourself these five questions to bring you back down to reality and keep you in check.