Ohhhhh man you guys- sticking to a budget is so very much about winning the Mental Game.
The Mental Game is the battle you face every day when it comes to sticking with your budget. It's the little voice inside your head telling you that budgets are pointless and restrictive, that they are too frustrating to figure out, and that it's not necessary to have an actual budget system set up, because it's not like you spend a ton anyway (because everything I buy is on sale or discounted so it's not a big deal right?!) Or maybe your spouse just doesn't understand your pressures and stresses these days. You NEED this item/service/treat, its only a few dollars. It's fine, right?!
For me, it goes a little like this:
Me- scrolling through Instagram: "oh my heck! Look at all of the cute little girl bows! Look at all of the pretty dresses in my size and favorite colors! I want all the things!" *looks at budget for the month* "shoot. I only have enough for one thing. Lame! *weeps bitterly but decides to stick with the budget.* (there have totally been times where I've cried about it, not gonna lie!)
Impulse shopper in me: "Or, you could get everything you want. It's not a big deal if you go over $10 or $20 this month. You don't even have to mention it to Kyler, it's not like he'll notice $10 or $20 here and there."
Gah!! Too often I have given in to this impulse-shopper-mentality. I've done it a hundred times. It's the worst trap, because it pulls you in time and time again and it's so EASY to slip into. So how did I eventually find my self control and stop caving to this voice? Well, I had to find my WHY.
Why was it worth it for me to stick to my budget? Why is it worth it for you? What matters most to you in regards to your budget? Having little or no debt? Being on the same team as your spouse? Having a good retirement when you're older? Teaching your children healthy spending habits for when they are older? Being completely self sufficient and never having to ask friends, family or church leaders for money? What is your reason that will motivate you to stick with it? Find it, and hold on to it with all that you've got. It makes alllllllllll the difference.
Those months where I didn't have a strong WHY for my budget were the hardest. Those months where I felt mad at my spouse for insisting we use one, or when I felt like I just couldn't do it and didn't even want to try, or where I complained about it all the time, those are the times when I failed miserably with budgeting. Anytime the impulse shopper voice in my head told me to just get it anyway, I caved. It makes me think of the popular Katy Perry song "Roar" (bear with me!) where the lyrics say: "I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything." That is an incredibly true statement for many things, including budgets. If you don't stand for anything (living debt free, supporting your spouse or whatever your WHY is,) you will never repeatedly stick to your budget. But if you find your WHY, it's a game changer.
The number one reason I have chosen to stick to my budget is for my marriage. Sticking to our budget means a lot to my husband and I have committed to give my very best to my marriage. If I were to continue overspending while keeping up the guise of sticking with the budget that he and I have set TOGETHER, I am committing financial infidelity to my spouse, which I don't think I realized before. Doing something with money other than what you agreed on with your spouse, is going behind their back and being dishonest. Maybe that's an extreme way to look at it, but I feel like it was the truth for me in my own experience. I wasn't being honest and on a team with my husband when I chose to get what I wanted despite knowing what we promised to do. I was saying "hey that's great you feel that way, and even though I said I'd do it, to heck with how you feel! It's too hard for me to change. What you want is not as important as what I want." If you keep overspending accidentally, then you both need to figure out a better dollar amount or system for your budgeting, but in my experience it seems that overspending is usually done very much on purpose.
I'm being extremely open and honest with you because I want to show you that I've been there. I have been the girl who repeatedly went over on the budget ON PURPOSE and I have seen how it perpetuates a lack of trust, love and safety within a marriage. Sure, you can sweep it under the rug and not talk about it for a few months, maybe even years, but the effects of those decisions are still there, and they will do damage to your relationship with your spouse over time for sure. (Also, I think it's important to note here that the budget I was choosing to *not* stick to was one my husband and I had decided on together. It was not dictated by one of us. It was not forced on either of us but due to what we wanted in life it was necessary to establish. We made the choice together because of the financial goals we had, and we needed to both stick to it if it was going to work. Make sure you set those budgets and amounts TOGETHER.)
The second reason why I stick to my budgets is because I feel AMAZING after seeing the results time and time again. We have safety and security due to our financial restraints. I have learned a valuable skill to not let marketing and sale signs affect me. On a more serious note, if Kyler were to pass away (heaven forbid), I wouldn't be buried under huge amounts of debt. If Kyler lost his job and we had to stick to a strict, small budget for just basic needs, I could do it because I've developed the skill and restraint to stick with it. (It wouldn't be fun, but I could do it.) It feels good when we've saved up for something special we really wanted to buy or do. We know we worked hard for it and really deserve it. It's awesome knowing that we can spend within our budgets and still be saving money. It's the best feeling to be in control of your spending and saving habits!
But I know how hard it is to get there. You start off all excited about it and figure it out with your spouse and it's great for the first month, but then when the excitement wears off and an opportunity to spend more than the budget arises (going out to eat with friends, a sale at your favorite store, a favorite play of yours is performing only for this weekend etc etc) how do you stay motivated?
You remember your WHY. You remember your promise. You remember why you thought it was worth it to begin with.
Sometimes you even stop following the little girl bow shops and beautiful dress shops on Instagram until you can get better self control. Sometimes you tell the friends that want to eat out every weekend "hey I'd love to spend time with you but instead of eating out can we have a potluck at home instead?"
If you break your resolve to stick with your budget with every chance that pops up (and you better believe that life will always test you in this regard,) then your WHY isn't good enough, or you aren't holding on to it tightly enough. You aren't a weak person, so don't choose to be one. Set your mind to it, come to an agreement, and then hold tight. It gets easier and will eventually become second nature to you. You really can do it. I'm living proof!
The idea of saving up and budgeting in order to buy what you really want is an old fashioned ideal in today's world. And to be honest, at first, it's a lot less fun, that's for sure. Social media and the way society views budgeting is not on your side either. Companies rule the world with slogans like "treat yo' self" and "yolo." You have to be so careful and strong to not let that mentality affect your spending habits every day and with every purchase. But if you can stick with it and overcome the pressure and desire to overspend, holy cow it is SO rewarding, and then it becomes the most fun and exciting thing in your life.
Find your WHY and then sticking to a budget becomes so much easier. Having been there time and time again, this preliminary step has worked wonders for my husband and I. 🙌🏻
Tell me your WHY in the comments- I love to hear what motivates each person to stick to their budgets! ❤️