In many ways, budgets are a lot like shoes: If they don’t provide you with the perfect fit, your movement is impaired and you walk around feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Just like shoes, some budgets give you too much room or are simply too constraining. The key to finding the right budget, like in shoes, lies in finding the proper fit. Budget problems often arise when you try to force yourself into an uncomfortable fit.
In an attempt to make uncomfortable budgets work, some people try all kinds of remedies. In the times of ancient China, there was a custom of foot binding. When one’s feet were binded, it was to get them to fit into the wrong size shoe. Eventually, a person could wear the wrong size shoe, but the pain and damage they did in the process was irreversible. People seem to do something similar with budgets as they attempt to use a figurative shoe horn in order to make their money choices work. Some get themselves into a great deal of debt or they sign into a sketchy deal that ends up costing them money. Others end up with a house full of material things but no money in their savings account for emergencies.
So, how can you find the budget that is the perfect fit? Give yourself time to try on different ones and assess what works with each. Just like shoes, you often have to try on more than one pair before you find the ones you want to buy.
Here are 14 steps* you can take to find the perfect budget:
- Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to come up with reasons why you can’t start or make changes. Just take the “bull by the horns” and do it. Make that commitment to financial freedom.
- Be flexible. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Come up with a plan but realize that you may need to adjust it now and again. Don’t restrict yourself. Life is full of surprises and we need to allow ourselves to adapt accordingly.
- Do something. You don’t have to start big. Start with baby steps. Something is always better than nothing.
- Get a goal. Goals give us a mission and a purpose. Set a goal and let yourself strive for something. Once you complete that goal, set the next one. You will get a great sense of accomplishment with the completion of each one.
- No gear needed. You don’t need fancy software or gear to manage your money. You can do the job with a paper and a pen. All you need is a medium to record monthly expenses and inputs into savings.
- Be consistent. Whatever plan you come up with, make sure it is something you can do consistently. You will be more motivated to continue with it if you see yourself able to do it regularly. This is something that I have had to work on. In the past, I have let me my ambition get the better of me and I have set up plans that I can’t get done regularly. I have been more successful when I have set a minimum that I always have to reach.
- Start slow. Like the saying goes, crawl before you walk, walk before you run. Don’t run wild on the first day. Start out with small changes and adjustments to your spending and saving and slowly build on them. It will increase your chance of success.
- Keep track. This is where your paper and pen comes in. Keep track of everything you do and the effect of every change you make. This will allow you to review them and see what kind of progress you have made. Seeing your progress will keep you motivated to continue working towards your goal.
- Don’t overdo it. This ties in with #6 and #7. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. This will only make you fail and stay in the rut. Be realistic with yourself and those in your life.
- Set mini goals. You may have a big goal you want to reach and that’s great, but by setting mini goals along the way, you will keep yourself connected to the big picture as well as keep yourself motivated. If you can experience small successes on your journey, your general happiness will improve and your will be able to maintain your focus and positive outlook on the future outcome.
- Reward yourself. As you accomplish steps towards your goal, reward yourself. Allow yourself to feel the reward of success. You deserve it.
- Mix it up. Variety is key. Set different goals that all lead up to the same result. This will help you stay motivated and experience different rewards. This can also be used in the context of making your plan. Mix up your methods on how you plan to reach your goal. You might find that one way brings better results than another.
- Have fun. Managing money wisely does not need to be stressful or daunting. You can have fun with it. It just takes some creativity. One fellow blogger does strip budgeting.
- Group support. Most people are more successful when they have people behind them. Get your family on board with your financial goals. Work together to accomplish them. Tell your close friends about your plans and how they can help you. Before you know it, you will have everyone helping you reach the top.
*These 14 steps were previously posted on this site.
Remember this, at the end of the day, both shoes and budgets must fit properly or they will cause you great pain and instability.