All too often it seems we live in a “succeed or fail” society. Success is good, failure is bad, and in many areas it seems to be an all-or-nothing option. That can be a very destructive mentality, especially as it relates to budgeting.
“I overspent in groceries, I failed at budgeting.”
“I haven’t updated my budget for 2 weeks. I failed at budgeting.”
“I didn’t save enough for that car repair. I was short $100 because I didn’t realize the car would need brakes and tires. I failed at budgeting.”
“I’m going to have to lower my clothing category so I can have more money to cover the birthday present I bought. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much on it. I failed at budgeting.”
That’s all just silly.
Remember when you learned to ride a bike? You probably fell down a lot in the beginning and crashed into a lot of bushes. You skinned knees — and your pride — over and over again. But falling was actually a good thing, because it made you focus on balance even more. You learned how to brake quicker so you didn’t crash into things, and when to pedal harder so you could get up the hill. You learned when you could just coast.
You could say all that falling down and crashing taught you how NOT to ride a bike.
Use the same context when talking about budgeting. Focus on the positive and remove the negative.
”I overspent in groceries.”
If you overspend in a category, maybe instead of failing, you’ve just learned that next month you should budget a little more in that area.
Or maybe not. Maybe the overspend was for a very specific item and you know it’s not likely to happen on a regular basis.
“I haven’t updated my budget for 2 weeks.”
It’s not too late for you to update it today. It may take a little bit of work, and if so just commit to the time. It doesn’t matter that it’s been a day, a week, or two weeks — it only matters if you stop altogether. As long as you keep going, you’ll learn and get better. Maybe you just learned that two weeks is too long to be away from your budget.
“I didn’t save enough for that car repair. I was short $100 because I didn’t realize the car would need brakes and tires.”
Good luck finding anyone who can predict with 100% accuracy everything that will happen to them financially. You won’t be able to, either. Let it go…adjust…move on. Be glad you saved something toward car repairs, because it could have been worse. Your accuracy will improve the longer you budget. You’ve just learned to budget a little more toward car repairs in the future.
“I’m going to have to lower my clothing category so I can have more money to cover the birthday present I bought. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much on it.”
Or maybe getting that present was more important to you than buying more clothes. Celebrate the fact that you HAD money in your clothing category to move around. You were being proactive. You saw something go wrong and you adjusted. Nice job!