We are about halfway through the year, and I noticed something: my budget isn’t working. For the first couple of months, everything was going great and I was hitting my numbers. In fact, I was surpassing my goals. Then we got into April and May, and I was not making the same progress as in previous months. I continued to set the same goals, but was not allowing enough money for myself to live. Some of this had to do with the fact that I now had more free time and my workload was not as heavy, but other parts of it were due to lack of discipline. Many of my coworkers, friends, and peers do not have the same financial goals or concerns as myself, which can make abiding the Dave plan difficult at times. I have needed to say no, but have not.
When I arrived to June and looked ahead at the summer I planned, I began to panic from a financial standpoint. I had multiple weddings to attend that were out-of-area, and several events/trips I already confirmed, and I did not have the budget to support it. I was angry at myself for not being more disciplined and scared that I would fall back into the same habits as before. What have I decided to do? I decided to make some adjustments for my budget, and focus on what small changes I can make that will help me through the next few months.
I looked at how I could change my daily habits in order to prepare for these larger events. Some of that included eating in versus going out to eat, cutting back on my fun activities with friends and making them more affordable, and using all of the food in my pantry! A large portion of my money spent has been due to eating out. I’ll admit it, dining out is convenient and an experience, but it comes with a price! I realized I could purchase all of my groceries for the week for the same amount as one meal going out. I mean…21 meals and 14 snacks or 1 appetizer and 1 entree for one night? When you put it down on paper and think it through, it really is a no-brainer.
In August, life will be slowing down for me and I will be able to 100% re-organize my budget for my ideal situation (in my current state of living). In that way, I will be able to begin my academic year and restart my fiscal year on a positive note. In order to prepare for that, I have been tracking where my money has gone the past two months, and where it will need to go for the remainder of 2016. I have already prepared my budget to be implemented as soon as we hit August, and will begin a couple of sinking funds for the holidays and a new car. Betty is getting older, and I expect to have many more miles with her, but I like to be prepared for our friend Murphy. I am revisiting the Dave principles, particularly about saying no in order to say yes in the future. Discipline will be my theme for the remainder of the year, and will be overflowing into multiple areas in my life, such as fitness, health, work-life balance, etc. For me, it was too much to tackle all of these things at once, and I’m learning to tackle one thing at a time. I’ll report back to see what progress I can make in the second half of the year versus the first half!
Have you ever struggled with your budget and continuing to make progress? How did you get yourself back on-track?