Are You Sabotaging Your Budget? 5 ways to fix it fast

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Are you (metaphorically) banging your head against the wall, wondering why your budget isn’t working? You may accidentally be sabotaging your budget. I’ve seen so many of my clients, friends, and family members left stumped and at the end of their tether over an ineffective budget. These feelings might sound familiar to you and hopefully will provide you with some reassurance that you aren’t alone.

It may look like you’re doing everything right with your budget. Heck, the fact that you’ve taken the time and energy to implement a budget is commendable in my book. You have the spreadsheet, you’re following the steps and yet each month you find yourself in the same situation. This can be so discouraging and leave you feeling a bit hopeless. Sabotaging your budget is not your fault though and it doesn’t have to remain your reality.

You might even start to think that it’s “just the way it is” and you’re destined to struggle. This couldn’t be further from the truth! (I have a whole other blog on mindset you might want to check out on this). You may be accidentally sabotaging your budget! Some little tricks worked so well for me that I wanted to share them with you! I’m nice like that. Here are five ways that you can fix your budgeting self-sabotage, not tomorrow or next week, but TODAY. 

Self-sabotage mistake #1: You Aren’t Tracking Your Spending


Why this is so bad

This might sound like an obvious part of any budgeting strategy but you’d be surprised how meticulous you need to be with this. If you don’t track exactly what you are spending in each area you have no opportunity to see if your budget is working. It is said a lot but it all does add up. You might not be aware of just how much is going out of your account each month unless you stay right on top of it. 

How to fix it

I’ve tried just about every way of tracking expenses and how much I’m spending each month. The most effective is to break up your expenses into categories using an app like You Need a Budget. Don’t let fear of technology be the reason that you continue sabotaging your budget – I know that it can be scary.

The easiest way to track your spending in categories is to use the You Need a Budget app. Using something that makes it automatic means you won’t have to count receipts and you will see where your money is going. The key to a successful budget is to make it as straightforward and efficient to maintain as possible. This App is great at doing just that. You can get 34 free days of access to the YNAB app here. If you decide to sign up for full access using this link, I get free months of access for my family! So, you get a free month and I do too! How cool is that?

Sabotaging your budget mistake #2: Your Bills Are All Clumped Together 


Why this is so bad

This one is something that most people don’t think about but it can make a big difference in your budget. Do you notice that so many of your bills come out at the same time every month? Having all of your bills stacked at one month in the month doesn’t allow you to have a steady and consistent stream of spending money. This can be dangerous and leave you struggling one week with no grocery budget and having more than you need in others. But you may not know that you can adjust these dates and this is why you may not know that it is sabotaging your budget!

How to fix it

Layout all of your expenses and the dates they’re due. Now, look at when your paycheck usually hits your account. What would be the optimal times to pay each bill so that you feel secure and steady for the whole month? Don’t be afraid to call up or go online to request for your due dates to be changed to a time that works for you. To be honest, companies won’t care that much about the date, they’re most concerned that it’s paid consistently and on time each month. This is a simple and effective way to even your bills out over the month.

Self-Sabotage mistake #3: You Aren’t Planning for Infrequent Expenses


Why this is so bad

We can often feel that our budgets are spoiled due to unexpected external factors. I’m sorry to have to do this… but I’m calling you out. You may be sabotaging your budget by not factoring in expenses that are infrequent BUT predictable and to be expected. Christmas is the same day each year. You probably also have a grasp on how long your tires will last or when you’ll need to replace certain items in the home. Ignoring these expenses and being surprised that they pop up will mess with your budget and make you feel crappy. 

How to fix it

Start budgeting for this stuff every month man! Car repairs, home maintenance, gifts, subscriptions, clothes, back to school, etc. Set a yearly goal for each category and break it into monthly amounts to set aside. This way when an expense comes up, the money is already there! The peace of mind that this brings is CRAZY and invaluable! It can be hard to think long-term, especially when you’ve adopted a scarcity mindset. However, I promise you, soon enough you’ll be used to putting this money away. 

Sabotaging your budget mistake #4: Not Planning for Fun


Why this is so bad

If you take NOTHING from literally anything I preach but this.. then I’d be happy… You deserve to live a life of happiness and abundance WHILE you budget. You can have it all. Budgeting requires discipline. It is way too hard to stick to a budget that removes funding for everything you enjoy. 

How to fix it

First, you remove the belief that you have to spend money to have fun. That is what is sabotaging your budget. Now, make a list of all the things you enjoy. What can you do for free? Put that on your schedule! Scheduled things happen more frequently. People often laugh when they see my calendar. I schedule EVERYTHING. 

Plus, you have the extra bonus of looking forward to that fun (which just makes it better). Then figure out what money you need for the other fun stuff you love. Make it a priority in your budget! Even if it’s a small amount it will help you stick with your goals SO much more!

Self-Sabotage #5 Your Goals Aren’t Specific Enough


Why this is so bad

Being vague with your goals won’t motivate you strongly enough to stay on track. The emergency fund in your savings account might well turn into the “I had a bad week and need a latte” fund. Either way, unless you get super specific with what you’re aiming for, it’s likely going to be spent. 

How to fix it

I use my Simplifi app to create categories for my savings. This way I know how much I’ve saved for specific goals and it doesn’t look “available” for other things. It’s a bit of a psychological trick so that the money seems to be spent already. I can promise you it works!

Final Thoughts

A budgeting plan that works doesn’t have to involve monumental tasks. You can use simple tricks and tactics to help you stay on track and achieve your long term goals. 

I’m Sarah


On a mission to change the world of finance from stuffy suits and guilt-trips to a place of understanding supported by solid strategy; I have personally journeyed from homeless teen mom to ass-kicking CEO and now my work centers around empowering women like you to do the same.

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