Creating or working with a budget can be a stressful experience. But there are ways to minimize the stress.
Budgeting may never be fun and exciting, but it doesn’t have to keep you up at night, either.
If you’ve ever spent all night worrying about your finances, you’re not alone. That said, let’s try to get a good night’s sleep going forward!
4 Tips to Have a Happy Budgeting Experience
Pay your bills during regular business hours
Have you ever opened your mail late at night, only to find a mistake (or a surprisingly high expense)?
I’m guessing that you probably didn’t have sugar plums dancing in your head as you slept (or tossed and turned, to be more realistic) that night!
I used to do all of my budgeting and bill paying late at night. The house was quiet and I was extra productive. It was wonderful… until I realized there was nothing I could do if I found an error (other than worry all night long).
Since I started opening and paying my bills during (or shortly before) normal business hours, I’ve had a lot more peace of mind. Even if I found an error or a bill seemed larger than usual, it was easier to correct it and deal with it. I didn’t spend all evening worrying instead of sleeping, either.
Create your budget as a team
Is there one person in your home who typically handles all the bills and budgeting?
I used to create my family’s budget by myself (usually late at night when the house was quiet) and then “discuss” it with my husband later. In my mind, it was so much simpler to say “we’re cutting back on cable” or “you can’t go to Tim Horton’s every morning” than to work on the budget together.
Unfortunately, my budgeting ideas weren’t always well received by my husband. 😉
Even if you’re trying to work toward a common goal like paying off debt or saving for a house, you’ll have a lot less heartache if you create your budget as a team.
By working as a team, you’ll be able to discuss ways to compromise. Also, as you’re talking together about your common goal, your spouse will be more likely to consider ways that he can contribute (like giving up his Tim Horton’s habit in favor of coffee at home). Maybe you’ll even be inspired to change one of your own habits (I’ve been slowly cutting back on my Amazon purchases). 😉
Involve your spouse (or even your children if they’re old enough – it might help them to understand why they can’t have a trampoline, a puppy, and a trip to Florida). Allow them to have input in the budget. Even if your spouse’s Tim Horton’s habit isn’t a reasonable part of your budget, by working on it together, you’ll both be able to see ways that you can make your budget better.
Review your budget in the middle of the month
Many people create their budget at the beginning of the month (or even at the beginning of the year) and then review it at the end. However, if you regularly review your budget in the middle of the month, you’ll be able to make changes so that you stay on track to reach your financial goals.
Overspent in a category? In the middle of the month, you still have time to rearrange your budget.
Maybe there was a great sale on Legos and you started your Christmas shopping early. Your Christmas budget in future months may be smaller since you won’t need to buy your son’s present, but that won’t really help you this month.
As you’re looking at your budget, think about how you could reduce spending right now. Is there a way to reduce your dining out budget?
Another way to fix a budgeting oopsie is to “borrow” from another category. Is there another budgeting category that you won’t need to spend this month? For example, we have a monthly clothing budget, even though we don’t buy clothes every month. I normally wait until Kohl’s or Target has a clearance sale (like the end of summer sale) and then stock up on future sizes for my kids. If I “borrow” from my clothing budget to buy Legos, I can just use the money from the Christmas budgeting category once it’s time to buy clothes.
Be realistic with your budget
Bottom line, your budget needs to balance. You can’t spend more than you earn or have saved.
However, maybe your budget allows you to spend $25 on dining out, but you have a date night planned, and you’ll need to pay for dinner, drinks, and a babysitter….
Sometimes, what looks realistic on paper isn’t always such a great idea in real life.
If you stretched yourself too thin this month (or every month), it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Start with a fresh budget. List your fixed expenses first and then try to play with your variable expenses. If you enjoy dining out and know that $25 won’t be enough, add more but then subtract from another variable category, like clothing.
Budgeting is really a matter of making sure that your priorities align with your finances.
As you’re working through your budget, try to relax. By being more intentional about when you pay your bills, creating a budget as a team, reviewing your budget in the middle of the month, and being realistic with your budget, you’ll be much happier.
Are there any tricks that you’ve used to make your budget smoother? Please share below!