Most of us suck at budgeting, and it's not like it's hard because of the maths. It's easy to crunch the numbers and come up with a spending plan. It's the behavioural part that trips us up.
It's easy to think of budgeting as a one-time task. You do the maths and figure out how much you have to spend on various categories throughout the month. That part is easy, but sticking to that plan is a whole other endeavour. It's probably more productive to think of budgeting as an ongoing habit because a successful budget highly depends on your behaviour. For example, you have to:
- Resist the temptation to spend
- Find a balance between saving and spending so you don't burn out
- Track your finances regularly so you can nip any problems in the bud
That last one is especially important because it's almost a last resort if the first two don't work out. Like most habits, the longer you go without looking at or thinking about your budget, the harder it is to come back to it.
This might sound familiar: You overspend, destroy your budget, and now you're terrified to look at the damage. Instead, you ignore it because it's too stressful to deal with right now. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Except that, thanks to inertia, you get too comfortable not managing your money, which will inevitably backfire.
Sure, automation can help with certain things like making sure your bills are still paid and pulling from savings if you overdraft. But automation doesn't replace solid habits and, for the sake of not letting your finances completely take over your life, solid financial habits are important.
The bottom line: Don't think of budgeting as a one-time task. It's an ongoing habit you have to keep up with.