4 Questions to ask yourself about your budget

If you take managing money seriously, then you know how important it is to continue to learn and grow. You sit down at the end of the month (or however frequently – it’s your choice) to review your budget like a good money manager, then you look for ways to do even better. I love that about budgeting and it’s what I do in my own life.

Every December, I look over my budget and plan for the next year. I look at the progress I’ve made, where I went wrong, and the questions I still have. Then I plan for the next year with this reflection in mind. I always feel confident that I will have a good year because of my planning. I’d like to offer you some of the questions I ask myself when I review my own budget. Give these a shot if you want to take your money management to the next level.

Would my problems be solved with more money?

Obviously everyone wants more money. Sometimes, however, making more money isn’t necessary. Before you go for a second job that steals your precious free time, see if you can squeeze more money out of your existing budget. If you can find a way to meet your needs without that second job (or a raise with more responsibility), you’ll keep your free time to yourself. And if you have no choice but to make moves to make more money, you’ll know that it’s the best move to make in your situation.

Have I eliminated all my wasteful spending?

You can improve your budget (and save money) by getting rid of expenses for items that you don’t really need. The most obvious would be for purchases of things you don’t use anymore, such as memberships or subscriptions that you used to use but stopped enjoying a long time ago.

Keep in mind that you can resubscribe in the future if you ever decide you want to access it again. But for now, let it go. Your budget will thank you.

What else can I adjust to reach my goals faster?

If you really had to push yourself to find an extra $50 in your budget to put toward your goal, could you do it? Think deeply about how hard you’re working to accomplish your goals. I’m sure you’re doing just fine where you’re at, BUT if you want to turbocharge your efforts, dig deeper. Doing so may allow you to pay off a debt a few months faster, which means you get to move on with your life. So think about how you can move more quickly.

This is also a great way to test yourself. You’ll realize you’re capable of doing more than you thought when you meet that goal faster, and you may be encouraged to re-evaluate all your goals.

Is it doing everything I need it to do? Am I getting the most out of my life right now?

If you’re not pushing yourself to reach a goal, you’re most likely maintaining a nice status quo with your budget. How are you doing with that? Is your budget helping you to do everything you need it to do to allow you to lead the kind of life you want to live?

Sometimes we get so caught up in managing money that we manage to squeeze our life out of it. Take a step back and make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success and enjoyment. You can readjust as needed. It’s your budget after all – you need to make sure you can be happy with it. By the way, it can be natural to have these challenges in budgeting. If you ever need help, I’m here for you.

There you have it – four questions to help you improve your budgeting. This is by no means the complete list of things to think about but if you ask yourself these questions, you will see things change. Budgeting works for those who work at it. Trust in the process, keep up the good work, and you’ll see the progress you desire.

The Best Way to Control Your Spending

Have you eaten any food today, dear reader? Do you feel hungry, even hangry? No one likes feeling their empty stomach rumble!

How about a bowl of cereal?

Better yet, how about a nutritious, filling salad?

Not good enough? Come to my steakhouse and enjoy a nice filet mignon, with a side of broccoli and potatoes!

There are so many options to fulfill your needs that it can be confusing to know where to begin or what messages to listen to. You know you can’t go too long without eating (roughly three weeks) or you’ll eventually die. But you have your choice of what to eat to stay alive. Companies know this, and they create all manner of products to help meet your needs. They are also becoming increasingly adept at creating things you don’t need while simultaneously becoming more sophisticated at convincing you that you need it. That’s a huge problem, especially if you want long-term financial success.

Why it’s hard to control your spending

We live in a world that encourages us to spend on things we don’t really need. Our perceptions are shaped by companies concerned with profit. Marketers pay top dollar for advertising campaigns that get you to buy items that you may not even be able to afford or hurts you in the long run. They won’t care if their food makes you healthy or sick or broke, as long as they make money. Companies need to grow to make their shareholders happy. Your success is not their goal.

In order to protect yourself from falling into the spending trap, you’ll need to accept that the world doesn’t care if you succeed. Your success needs to be your number one priority, as their success (even at your expense) is their priority. It’s your responsibility to control your spending and meet your financial goals, not theirs. It’s unfortunate that companies’ goals are sometimes at odds with our own, but that is how it goes in the world we’ve built. Choose to break out of the mold. Know what you want and put yourself first.

The best way to control your spending

Now that you know you need to take responsibility for your success, how do you do it?

Spend on what you need

It’s up to you navigate the unlimited wants and to figure out what you actually need. Do you need to go for a steak dinner if you could use that same money to buy groceries for a week? Do you need the newest iPhone when an older model would work just as well? It’s up to you to decide.

Buy things you can afford

If you have a budget, you should already know what you can or can’t afford. Trust your budget and use it to buy what you need when you have the money to do so. I wouldn’t tell you not to buy that iPhone. I would, however, caution against buying an iPhone on credit, or buying it and then not being able to keep your lights on in your house or gas in your car. You can always save up for it if you really, really want it.

Stick to your financial goals

Your financial goals are your plans for your life. If what you want to buy negatively impacts or dramatically slows down your goals, then you should consider a cheaper alternative. It’s not worth buying a $700 phone now when it prevents you from funding your emergency fund. Wait to buy it, or choose another item that better serves your needs.

Put yourself first

Personal finances work for those who work at them. By keeping your goals in mind, sticking to your budget, and buying what you need, you can be successful at budgeting in spite of our consumer culture. Having an accountability partner or a coach can help as well. And remember to put yourself first. Make sure what you buy fits your needs and you’ll be well on your way to controlling your spending.

I’m rooting for you.