SUFFERING FROM BUDGET BURNOUT?: HOW TO STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
You have been gazelle-intense for months. You have been sticking to the budget, counting the pennies, and maybe even working a side-hustle. Then, you look down at the bottom line, and the needle has barely moved. How can you stick to your budget?
You wonder why you are doing it all. Everyone around you has a smile on their faces, and new clothes on their backs. Normal starts looking pretty good. So, you consider throwing in the towel, ditching the debt snowball , and forgetting all about the budget.
You, my friend, are suffering from budget burnout.
Need some help? Need a little encouragement? Or, perhaps, do you need a cure?
I have been in this boat with you. While my husband and I were paying down what seemed like an insurmountable mountain of debt and bills all while having another baby and finishing up grad school, I wanted to quit more than once.
I wanted to give up on so-called debt freedom and live a normal life outfitted with the car loan, the credit cards, and the never-ending payments.
The payments and the credit cards just felt easier than getting Sallie Mae and medical bills out of our lives forever.
I got to the other side of the mountain though, and I can tell you that it was SOOOO worth it! You can do it too!
However, I have been in your struggle. I have wanted to give up. I, like you, have suffered from budget burnout. More than once I nearly gave up.
Nevertheless, I persisted. And, I came up with some strategies to keep me going.
BEST CURES FOR BUDGET BURNOUT: 7 WAYS TO STICK TO YOUR BUDGET!
1. Change your budget perspective.
Too often, budget is used as a dirty word. But, the truth is, EVERYONE has restricted spending.
A budget, on the other hand, is something that sets you free. Your budget is your plan at the beginning of the month of what you are going to do with all the money that comes to you over the course of the month.
Think of it like the JCPenney catalog that used to come at Christmastime. You would fill out that wishlist with all of the items you wanted or needed. Then you would cut down your list until it was realistic!
Get out a piece of paper and spend all of your money before the month begins.
Sure, you are spending it on things like electricity and car maintenance, but you get to be the captain of your own money ship.
Beat budget burnout by changing your perspective about your budget. Let it be what sets you free rather than what restricts you.
2. Get some accountability!
Sometimes the reason you are suffering from budget burnout is that you have secluded yourself on budget island. Build a bridge and find someone to walk alongside you.
If you are working to get out of debt, find someone who is walking the same journey. Follow debt and budget bloggers, tune into the Ramsey or Rachel Cruze Show everyday. These podcasts are incredibly inspiring.
Another one of my favorite ways to get out of a budget slump when I am suffering from budget burnout is to talk about money with my friends.
In fact, one of the ways that we stayed on track when we were ready to give up was to meet with several of our friends regularly. We discussed budgets, how to stick to our budgets, and budget goals when we were trying to finish up our debt snowball.
Having accountability and encouragement can help you feel less isolated as you are working to get out of debt and to maintain your budget!
3. SPLURGE (a little)
Like I said, a budget shouldn’t restrict your life. Instead, use it to set you free. If all of your money is going straight to paying off debt or to your 401K, you might be overdoing it a little.
Instead, create some margin in your budget for some impulse spening, fun money, or even some new things here and there. Stick to your budget by also living the life you design.
Set some goals for yourself, and when you meet them, treat yo’self.
Did you pay off one of your debts completely? Treat yourself to a fresh coffee.
Add a few dollars to your monthly fun money. Or, work from home and use the gas in your car for a Saturday drive instead!
You will definitely burn out on your budget if you treat your money as purely practical.
Your hard-earned cash is used for what you need and for some of the things that you want!
4. FIND YOUR WHY (what are your dreams)
I never would have been able to conquer our debt and our budget without our “why.” I would not have been able to stick to a budget without having a purpose.
For us, the reason to get out of debt and live on a budget was to later “live like no one else.” Our family has BIG dreams for changing our family tree, outrageous generosity, and extreme living!
We want to take our kids to travel the world and we want to change the world along the way. When my husband and I sat down to create our budget we made our dream list. Know what? When we knew what our dreams were, we knew how to get there.
And the map pointing to our dreams is our budget.
Turns out we can do whatever we want if we have the money to do it! So, if we strategically save, live, and plan, we can achieve all of our dreams.
What is your why? If you know it, you might be able to stifle your budget burnout.
5. LOOK BACK TO SEE HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME
Maybe your budget burnout stems from not realizing how far you have come. Did you start your debt free or budget journey months or even years ago, and it feels like you will never get out of the deep dark tunnel?
Look back at where you started and find out exactly how much you have already paid off, saved, or changed your family tree already.
If it seems like your journey will never end, or your budget will never have any margin in it, then perhaps you should look back and see how far you have already come.
Sometimes a trip down memory lane is just the cure for budget burnout.
6. MAKE YOUR BUDGET JOURNEY VISUAL
I am a terrible artist, but the first thing that I do when I need to conquer or explain a difficult issue is draw a picture.
Write all of your debts or expenses on post it notes, and get rid of them as you fulfill the debts or expenses.
Make a debt thermometer and color it in as you reach each milestone.
Make a paper chain and tear off the chains in $10, $100, or even $1,000 increments.
Have travel goals? Get three colors of push pins and a map of the world. Use one color of push pin for showing where you have been. Use another color to show where you want to go in the future. And use the third color to show where you are going next! Then change the colors as you achieve your travel goals!
Making a visual representation of your debt journey, your budget, or your dreams might help you to stay on track.
7. MAYBE YOUR BUDGET NEEDS ADJUSTING
Lastly, you might be suffering from budget burnout because you are budgeting wrong. Your budget is not etched in concrete. There are some months when you will get it wrong. Some months a surprise expense or windfall will come up.
How can you stick to your budget without realizing that your needs change as you go along? Your budget needs to be sturdy but flexible.
It is entirely possible that the source of your budget burnout is an unrealistic budget. So, before you toss it out with this week’s garbage, consider revisiting it.
Keep tweaking your budget, your expenses, your savings, and even your fun money until you find a balance that you can maintain.
Further, don’t just set it and forget it. Your budget might need to change every single month or year. Maybe you even need to change it and reset it every week.
Sometimes the source of your budget burnout is the budget itself rather than your attitude toward it. Give yourself some grace in your budget and determine whether you might need to relax some of your categories.
FIGHT BURNOUT, AND STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Budget burnout can hit at anytime. I usually suffer from it when I watch a giant check go toward a bill rather than that new outfit I want. However, I stick to my budget by implementing some of these strategies!
Some days I want to throw out the budget completely and go buy that convertible on the corner of the new car lot!
However, most of the time I can get back on track with some accountability, a little treat, and a visit to my list of dreams!
Living on a budget has really and truly set our family free! Not only are we free from our commercial debts, but, by God’s grace, we are building a life that is more generous and fulfilling than we could have every imagined!
Don’t let budget burnout get the better of you. Try these cures!