Rick and I started our first budget together in April. (Read how we started it here.) We were stoked to begin managing our money more effectively and saving more intensely. We put a lot of time and energy into creating our budget, and we thought we had planned well. But you know what they say about best-laid plans…
Here are a few obstacles we encountered during our first month of budgeting and how we dealt with them.
Spending a lot at the beginning of the month. We spent most of our eating out/entertainment budget within the first week of the month. Oops! We realized this pretty quickly and made a few modifications to plans for the rest of the month so we were still able to remain within budget. We now try to space out our spending and think ahead.
Learning to say “no”. We turned down a few social events that would cost us extra money, mainly for food, travel and alcohol. We didn’t like it, but we knew we could easily live without these things. And we wanted to stay within budget.
Finding free things to do for entertainment. We started taking walks, reading more books, borrowing movies from the library, playing A LOT of Bananagrams, and blogging.
Dealing with unanticipated expenses. We did not plan on making any car repairs the first month, but we realized with the amount of driving Rick and I both do, we would need to make “car repairs/maintenance” a line item.
Cutting grocery expenses. I did not realize how difficult it would be to cut back on grocery expenses. I started following Whole30 during our first month of budgeting, and toward the end of the month I was always hungry. I filled up with more meat and veggies, which meant more $$$.
Since I enjoy trying new recipes and am used to using a variety of ingredients, cutting back on the grocery bill continues to be a struggle. I’m still working on simplifying this part and finding some recipes that are tasty, healthy and inexpensive.
Finding the balance. If we allow ourselves too much freedom, it will take longer to pay off our student loans. On the other hand, if our budget is too tight, we might get stressed out over unrealistic expectations.
I think Rick and I work well together to find the right balance. When one of us gets a little tense about the budget, the other jumps in with an encouraging word. We discuss if any extra expenses are worth it or if we could live well without it. We brainstorm different money saving strategies and hold each other accountable.
We continue to learn how to better save and budget our money each month. By overcoming our beginning budgeting challenges, we have significantly progressed in our efforts to pay off our student loans. Guys, we’re almost halfway through!
What kinds of obstacles have you run into when you started budgeting? How’d you overcome them?