Yes, you’re on a budget – but you also deserve to breathe
One of the most important things to remember while budgeting is that the aim isn’t to make yourself miserable. Saving for your future or to cover costs is both admirable and sensible, but that doesn’t mean you need to deny yourself the simple pleasures in life – you just need to be smart about it.
Just as a diet without a cheat day ends up failing miserably, someone who’s on too much of a restrictive financial plan won’t achieve their aims either.
Have a little, not a lot
Imagine your friends are all planning a night out at the movies. It can be quite daunting – after all, it’s never just the movies. They might want to get dinner, then a coffee or a drink – and that’s before the previews even begin. Things soon add up, and by the time you’ve got the popcorn in you’re in over your head.
In cases like this you don’t need to say no – why not say yes, but just to one thing? Drive along for the movie and leave as the credits roll.
What about when it comes to food? Eating well can be the downfall of many when you’re trying to save – and there’s only so many budget meals you can make. If you’re going to spoil yourself a little at the weekend, you don’t have to go all the way. Cook your own meal and only treat yourself when it comes to dessert. Enjoy life, but don’t overindulge.
When drawing up your budget, obviously you need to add in the essentials: the roof over your head, the food on your plate and the fuel in your car are a given – but life is full of other little things.
Only 39% of Americans actually have the money to cover the costs in an emergency and for Brits, the situation is similar. This is pretty worrying, so ask yourself – do you? By putting a little aside in case something should go wrong, you’ll sleep much easier at night.
On the flip side, being realistic also means that sometimes you want to buy a new outfit or get a haircut – and that’s honestly okay! Just plan ahead and make sure you’re strategic about when this is going to be.
Don’t beat yourself up
If you look at your bank account and things aren’t quite going as you planned, don’t give it all up. One way of making sure you’re never caught out is to make sure you’re always aware of your financial situation.
It’s now super easy to check your accounts at anytime, thanks to apps and the ability to bank online. Don’t bury your head in the sand – the problem won’t go away on its own.
When things don’t quite go to plan, come up with a new one. If you’re budgeting to save for a special thing – like a vacation or shopping spree – keep your eye on the prize. If you’re budgeting simply because money is tight, incentivise.
Tell yourself, “Yes, I messed up this time, but that’s okay”. Allow yourself future treats on a specific day so that you don’t get bored and drift again. In fact, behavioral scientists say that you should set aside time for financial management, celebrate small successes and always think about your “future self”.
Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does make the world go around. You just need to find comfort in a balance, and it’s absolutely doable.
Over to you…
I’d love to hear if or how you ease the pressure of a tight budget now and then, and how often. Leave a comment below!