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Sticking To a Money Budget - Why It Always Fails

Aug 17, 2007
Who hasn't bought a good budget book and ledger with every intention of setting up the perfect household budget, only to throw it in the trash a few days or weeks later?

Why are so many of us prone to ditching our budgets before we ever really gave them a chance? According to the experts, the most common reasons why budgets fail are:

Attitude:
Nobody likes a diet. It deprives you of the food you love most, and the ability to make decisions about what, when and how much you will eat. Far too many of us think of budgets in the same way: a diet for our finances. But budgets aren't meant to deprive anyone of anything. It is simply meant to be a tool to show you how best to spend your money, in order to give you the financial freedom to buy the things that matter most with little or no angst.

A sensible budget still allows occasional splurges for fun activities, as well as the ability to save for bigger ticket items in the future. Cruises, special vacations, weekends away. And even a new car, aren't off limits to the budget-conscious spender. But they are purchased with much thought and consideration as to how it will affect future purchases and lifestyle changes.

The key to successful budgeting is to acknowledge that your current finances may not allow you to go out with your friends to a dinner and the theatre every Saturday night, but going to the movies may be a more affordable option, with a great music concert thrown in every month or two. Instant gratification is nice, but the fact is, no one can continually spend more than they make on unimportant frivolities without serious repercussions. Jump into your budget-based life with a healthy attitude to ensure success - and a more prosperous future.

Motivation:
Ask yourself this important question before creating your new budget: "why am I suddenly interested in living a budget-centered life?" If the answer is: to appease my nagging spouse or parents; to live up to a bankruptcy initiative; or any other outside circumstance, then you may be setting yourself up for failure. If, on the other hand, you've finally come to realize that the only way to ease your financial burdens, and lower your stress levels is to take control of your money - and your life - then you're ready for the change. Go for it! Jumping into this new lifestyle with proper motivation is essential to success.

Expectations:
If you think living frugally for six months will get you out of $30,000 worth of credit card debt, and give you the money to purchase a new BMW, then you're going to be sorely disappointed. Budgeting is not a quick fix - it's a permanent way of life. In time, streamlining your expenses will free up more of your income for those special things you want to purchase, but not right away. The reality is: budgeting isn't a sprint; it's an endurance race. Start with reasonable expectations, and a manageable pace, and you will not only reach your financial milestones, you'll surpass them on your way to even bigger goals that you once thought unattainable.

Starting a budget without a healthy attitude, the right motivation and realistic expectations is like starting a diet with no intention of cutting back on the food you eat: your diet will fail and so will your budget. Understand that budgets aren't meant to take away the things you like, but a way to give you the peace of mind and financial freedom to enjoy the things you really love is the most important step to creating a budget that is both livable and helps you to attain your goals.
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