Sticking to a Budget

The first 10 days of November have been a bit of a struggle in terms of sticking to my budget. As you may know if you’ve been reading my blog, I use YNAB for budgeting. YNAB forces you to only budget money you have. Which is great when you are trying to reduce spending beyond your means. However, I have never tried to only budget for money I have. It’s so common sense but also so revolutionary…which makes no sense I realize.

So, I budgeted our paycheques we received November 1st (the money we have for the next 2 weeks until we are paid again, plus a bit extra that was left in our bank account). Each dollar received a job. I put $300 in the grocery category, hoping it would last for 2 weeks.

Hubs goes grocery shopping. Then he goes again, and again, until suddenly I realize on Thursday (1 week in) that we have only $70 left in the grocery budget. I start to wonder WHERE did it all go? Like, I saw a turkey and some cheese…but it didn’t seem like $230 worth??? Anyway, what happened here is spending with no consideration for the budget whatsoever, which is how we have been doing it for our entire lives as a couple. Until now.

I suddenly get angry about Hubs spending all the money. Then I reflect on why I feel this way. I have not asked him to download YNAB or check the budget before buying stuff, or even given him the login credentials. How can I be mad at him for not following the budget? I can’t. Lesson learned. Time to re-re-reschedule our budget meeting.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Hubs isn’t big on budgeting. I’m obsessed now that I’ve purchased a tool to help me (Dammit, I’m getting my 83.99 USD’s worth!). Also, I find it pretty fun. I really can’t expect him to find it fun, but I can provide him with tools to help avoid overspending. So that’s what I plan to do as soon as I can wrangle him for 20 minutes.

Anyway, I had to pick up a few more things Friday to round out the rest of the week for groceries, and I spent about an extra $40 over and above the $70 that was left. Not cool. I basically broke my own rule of sticking to the budget. However I feel like I’m still getting benefit from this experience, if nothing else. I am now forced to decide where I will take money from to cover the $40 overspend. Frankly the choices were limited! My line of credit debt repayment was the category that suffered the hack-and-slash fate. The people of YNAB call this “WAM-ing” – whack-a-mole from one category to another to ensure these important decisions are made, vs. just relying on credit to get you through the rest of the month (my former life’s story).

Find the Money First

I watched this fantastic webinar over the past week about “How to budget when you’re broke”. I’m not currently “broke” thankfully, but the concepts can be applied regardless of how much you have. It’s very YNAB-centric, but even if you don’t use YNAB, the system really works. If you struggle with sticking to your budget, I definitely recommend watching it here.

During the webinar, someone asks a question about how to stick to your budget once you’ve created one. For example, say you’ve spent all of your “dining out” money but an old friend comes to town and you absolutely must go to dinner with them. It’s just non-negotiable. These things do happen in life.

The answer was “Find the money first”. Meaning, don’t go look at your checking account to see that money is there. Instead, look at where you’ve budgeted all of that money. What are you willing to sacrifice for dinner with your friend?

That decision needs to be made before you eat dinner. Having your budget handy at all times will help you find the money first, whether it be via an app or a notebook in your pocket.

Person checking budget on smart phone
Find the money first

Finding the money first will be my new mantra before I spend another nickel.

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