Why did my Budget Fail? 5 Budget Hacks to Help you Track and Maintain your Money.
I cry over my budget.
Yes, you read that correctly. My drama queen self would emerge every single cut-off last year as I crouched in my dining table, pens and planner in hand. As a devout planner momma, I cannot simply accept that my beautiful printed excel budget sheet would fail me.
Luckily, I’ve gotten smarter with my budget this year. Not smart anough yet to not go over, no, but smart enough to know where I went wrong and do better next time. The following are some of the things I learned in my financial journey:
1. Mind the ‘little things’: when I first started budgeting, I thought I was already listing down 100% of my expenses. But I would still frequently go over even after following my expense tracker to the dot. To know where I am going wrong, I kept a tiny notebook where all of my expenses would go. I would bring it with me to the office and in the kitchentop when I’m home. In the process, I listed in there things that I did not wrote down in my budget, like the twenty peso load that I purchased, or the donuts that I bought the boys on the way home. So instead of just putting a buffer category I would allocate an unexplained amount into, I started allocating some money for mobile reload, pasalubong and these random little things.
2. Separate your money physically: it is good when you know what your money is doing and where it is going, but it’s even better when you separate them physically. How many times did you take php 300 instead of php 250 in your wallet and ended up spending it all? One of the famous financial coach, Dave Ramsey, even suggests an envelope system, where you separate your variables in envelopes so you can track it better.
3. Create your ideal budget a few months in advance, and just add new purchases or adjust amount as you go along: If you buy an oven in 12 months layaway plan in January, do you know how it will impact your budget in December? If you’ve set-up your ideal budget in advance, then yes! You can make your purchase guilt-free, and you will know exactly which months are tight and needed to be adjusted.
4. Integrate your non-cash purchases in their respective categories: Before, I used to have a separate category for my credit card. I would put in there the ending balance each month, not knowing in detail where those money went. So I can track my spending better, I started tracking my credit card purchases against the actual category it went to. For example, if I used my credit card for Uber, I’d note that down under ‘travel allowance’ instead of just credit card. This is one of the mindblowing activities I did for my budget! I realized that I’m going 250% over my travel allowance (non-cash and cash combined), and 300% over my coffee allowance!
5. Present your budget to your significant half, or even better, do it together: Before, the only time that I ever get to discuss my budget to Rush is when we are already fighting about it. This is a very bad idea, of course, and he would nitpick and criticize the details in anger, making me even madder and meaner. So now, in a calm environment, I would quickly show the budget to him, and tell him how we are going in that particular period. I would tell him ‘our budget is sh*t’ so he doesn’t ask me money for beers, or that we have enough blow money to watch some movie! He would also tell me in advance if there is anything he needs to buy so I can add it in my budget. Now we rarely ever fight about it anymore!
Easy peasy right? These are quick, actionable items you can apply to your budget immediately.
Do you have any other hacks I can add to these? Did you try any one of these hacks and did it work? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your wins in the comments!