Making the decision to manage your finances is a big step toward financial freedom. The first step to getting your finances in order is starting a budget.
Planning a budget takes time but it’s very rewarding. The hardest part about budgeting is the budgeting challenges you face along the way.
Trust me I know from experience. I started our first budget over 10 years ago and to this day we still face budgeting challenges. It seems like the challenges of budgeting will never stop.
Life continues to change and so does our budget. We are a family of 5 and each one of us has different “wants” and “needs”. The reality is, our budget will continue to change over the next several years.
I’m happy to say that I have fought for my budget. Despite the fact that budget challenges have tried to get me off track. This doesn’t mean I haven’t failed in my budget, I have.
I’ve had to get back up and focus on my budgeting goals. This is why you should have a set of goals you are working towards. It’s easy to lose sight of why budgeting is important.
Today, I’m going to share the budgeting challenges I have faced over the past 10 years. It doesn’t matter if you are new to budgeting or an expert in budgeting. You will face budget challenges.
It’s better to recognize the challenges that are coming rather than keeping your head in the sand. Budgeting has been one of the best things that have happened to our family. The reward is well worth it.
These are all the budgeting challenges we have faced in the past 10 years. Being aware of these challenges helps us combat them when they come.
The goal here is to overcome the challenges so you can continue to keep your budget on track. Just remember we have all been there at some point and you CAN overcome these challenges.
1. Getting the Whole Family Involved
Most households have one person handling the money. In our case, my husband has asked me to handle the money. We live on one income so it’s pretty clear the amount of money we bring in each month.
The first thing you need to do is get your spouse on board with your budget. When we planned our budget, we sat down and made sure our goals lined up. Next, we went through every “need” and “want” that we could think of.
This took time but we were eventually able to set up our budget categories and get our budget established. Next, we got our kids involved. We didn’t share any hard numbers with them but we wanted them to know our goals.
The Bible calls us to be good stewards of everything we have and that includes money. We wanted our kids to know that we had a purpose in what we were doing with our budget.
We want to honor the Lord with our finances and teach our kids to do the same. In the past 10 years of doing this, they have learned so much about money just by watching us.
Having the whole family involved is one of the biggest budgeting challenges. Thankfully, our kids know our plan and have an understanding that we can’t everything we want. Our needs are more important than our wants.
2. The “All or Nothing” Mindset
When it comes to budgeting you need to be dedicated if you want to be successful. Some people develop the all or nothing mindset and it may work to keep them on track but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Budget failure is common. Life is life and things come up. Don’t give up just because you fail. Get up and get back on track. budgeting is important and you don’t want to give up on that because you got off track.
I have to admit I started with the all or nothing mindset because that’s what keeps me motivated. The problem is I faced some pretty big realities over the years and realized the hard way that it wasn’t going to work with that mindset.
Stay dedicated to your budget and you will see the reward.
3. Keeping Track of Spending
Tracking your spending is a huge part of budgeting. If you don’t document where you spend your money, how will you know what you have left? It’s important to have good money habits.
The key here is to make tracking your spending as easy as possible. I used to pile up all my receipts and then write down what we spent on my budget forms.
Over the years, they’ve come out with some really great ways to track your spending. A few years ago, I stopped tracking my budget on paper and started using a budget app.
This eliminated the need for me to keep all my receipts and record them later. Now, I just record them on the app as I spend. There are instances where I put the receipt in my wallet and add it later but it’s not very often.
4. Staying Focused on Your Goal
Just like other things in life, budgeting is important. Money is something you need to survive and it will never go away. We need to face the fact that not managing your money properly can cause issues.
If you continue to live in debt you will be paying more for everything and never get ahead. It’s a bad cycle that you don’t want to be on.
We were in over $35,000 of credit card debt before I started even thinking about planning a budget. We kept pushing off our credit cards and would only pay the minimum payment.
It eventually caught up with us and God convicted us about the way we were spending money. It was a huge wake-up call and we set a goal to never be in credit card debt again.
It took us over 3 years to get that credit card debt paid off. Thank God our kids were little. We had to sacrifice so much but they didn’t really notice because of their age.
The point here is that you don’t have to experience what we experienced to know that debt is a bad thing. Budgeting challenges will be there but you need to establish a reasonable goal and stick to it.
5. It Takes Too Much Time
This is a lie. There are tons of things in my life that take more time than budgeting. If you realize that you need to plan a budget for your well-being then you will have no problem including it in your life.
Money can cause all sorts of issues including stress and depression. Would you leave stress and depression untreated? The majority would say no.
You would take the time to treat those issues. That’s why you need to budget. Treat the problem before it becomes life-threatening.
I spend maybe 2 hours a month budgeting. Once you create a budget, then the only time it takes is maintenance. Sometimes my husband and I go months before we change something in our budget.
The 2 hours I’m talking about is the time it takes for me to document our spending each month. That’s usually broken down into 5-minute increments throughout the week.
Don’t allow the challenges of budgeting to get in the way of handling your money in a healthy way.
6. Meal Planning
I know, meal planning sounds scary but are you aware of the amount of money and time you save when you meal plan? Not to mention your state of health.
When we weren’t meal planning, we were spending well over $1500 a month on food. We would just go out and get whatever we wanted to eat because we didn’t have a plan.
Most of the time, I was too tired to even think about what I was going to make for dinner. Once we made the commitment to start a budget, I knew I had to find a way to meal plan.
Spending $1500 a month on food was outrageous. What made it worse was we were transitioning to living on one income. My entire paycheck wasn’t coming in anymore.
The only two options we had was to put the overspending on a credit card or start a meal plan. Starting a meal plan ended up being the only option because we had already set a goal to not have credit card debt.
We are now at the point where we enjoy our own food more than restaurant food. Meal planning is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your budget.
7. Worrying about Failure
Failure is inevitable. It happens to everyone. Budgeting is no different. If you know this ahead of time, you won’t need to worry about your budget failing.
I personally love it when things stay the same. Change is hard for me. When something changes in our budget I feel like it will fail and sometimes it does.
You need to budget and worrying about failure can keep you from reaching your financial goals. Over the past 10 years, our budget has changed. We have 3 growing kids that have different needs.
Right now, my twin daughters are getting ready to drive. This is a new expense for us and we want to help them as much as we can. I’ve been researching how we can get cheaper car insurance for teens so I can save money in the process.
Instead of worrying about my budget failing, I’m being proactive to make it work.
8. Feeling Like You Are Missing Out
I’m not going to lie about this, you will feel like you are missing out. Missing out is a part of life. I even felt like I was missing out before I had a budget.
The best way to handle this budgeting challenge is to stay focused on your goals. My friends label me as “the coupon lady”. They know I budget and they know I love to save money.
What I’ve noticed over the years is everyone likes to save money. Even if they have a lot of money. When I suggest doing an activity for cheap or free, everyone is on board.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or what you are missing out on, utilize what you do have. Find ways to do fun things that fit in your budget.
We used to feel like we were missing out on date nights because of our budget. We made an effort to find free date night ideas so we didn’t have to miss out.
Keeping up with the Joneses never pays off. Be happy where you are and make the best of it.
9. Gift Giving Holidays Seem Impossible
I love giving gifts on holidays. It may seem impossible to do this on your budget but it’s not. There are lots of ways to give thoughtful gifts that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Every year, my husband likes to give the people at his work a little gift for Christmas. When he first brought the idea up to me, I thought there is no way.
After spending time scouring the internet and Pinterest, I was able to find some homemade gift ideas. My favorite is the Redbox gift code gift.
You buy the number of codes you need from Redbox and print them on a certificate. Then you get an uncooked bag of popcorn and tie the certificate to it.
They end up costing around $2 person. That doesn’t include my time in assembling them but that’s what makes the gift thoughtful. Taking your time to make a gift special.
This is just an example of how you can overcome this budget challenge. It may take you more time but homemade gifts are really memorable.
10. Feeling Like a Cheapskate
Being frugal or saving money is completely different. Frugal is being intentional about the money you are spending. There are people that are cheap and have tons of money as a result.
They aren’t saving money, they are just greedy with their money. Don’t allow yourself to think you are a cheapskate. You are really being a good steward and spending your money wisely.
My husband used to view me as a cheapskate. He didn’t understand that we had to save money to do things. There are certain things I would rather not spend money on.
This doesn’t make me a cheapskate, it makes me a wise spender. Now my husband sees it a different way. If I wasn’t a wise spender then we wouldn’t have half the things we have today.
If you are feeling like a cheapskate just remember that you are a wise spender and your budget is important to you.
11. Choosing to Stop Spending Money
There are a lot of decisions to be made when it comes to sticking to a budget. Choosing to stop spending money is one of them. I know, it’s hard to stop spending money especially when you’ve been using a credit card for everything.
It feels like your freedom is being taken from you. You can either continue to spend money and live in debt your whole life or you can stop spending money on the things that aren’t important.
Most of us are impulse shoppers. We see something we weren’t expecting to buy and we want it. This is where you have to stop spending money.
Plan your shopping trips and make a list. If it’s not on your list don’t buy it. I struggle with this mostly at the grocery store. If I don’t write a list, I end up spending way more than I budgeted for.
Learning how to coupon helped my grocery budget but many people don’t like to coupon. If this is a big budgeting challenge for you, try to find ways to stretch your money. Don’t compromise your budget.
12. Saying “No”
If you’re like me and you have a family, saying “no” is important. My husband used to be a big spender. Over the years he has learned that he can’t do that.
It takes away from our family. We are trying to save so our kids can drive, be educated, and have a wedding. Things like that can’t happen if you are afraid to say “no”.
Little things add up. I never say “no” to the things we need as long as it fits the “needs” category. I do say “no” to the things we don’t need.
Make sure you know the difference between your needs and wants. Once you know the difference, it will be easier for you to say “no” to the wants.
Your family will be fine even if they don’t get everything they want. They may even learn a thing or two that will help them spend money wisely.
What is your Biggest Budgeting Challenge?
We have faced these budgeting challenges over the past 10 years. They are all challenges but you can overcome them. Hopefully, this will encourage you to keep your budget going. Budgeting is worth it!