Strategies for Avoiding Budget Derailment

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For a lot of women executives, budgeting requires a big change in behavior. It can be difficult. You can expect to wind up spending more money than you had budgeted in a given area, because that’s what you’ve been doing for a long time. I never expect anyone to completely change their lifestyle within just two months. Remember, you’re trying to change long-standing habits around money. Don’t be too hard on yourself – just acknowledge when you get derailed and be more aware of it next time. If you try for several months to limit your spending in a certain area, yet you keep getting derailed, don’t give up.

Just try another number.

Some folks will set themselves a fairly aggressive number for a specific line item like dining out. For their first month on their budget, they’ll order next to nothing when they go out. By the second month, their willpower has failed them, and they spend way more on dining out than they intended. They’ll be so discouraged that they’ll be inclined to give up on the budget altogether.

As their advisor, I’ll encourage them to simply revisit the number. I’ll help them look at the proposed budget amount versus the amount they actually spent and come up with a more livable solution that allows them to be successful. I’ll also go over the other areas of their budget and encourage them on where they made progress. It’s important to take encouragement even while you’re holding yourself accountable.

Some strategies for staying on track include the following:

Be present

Once you begin your budget, check in regularly. That doesn’t mean having your bookkeeper check in for you. Staying present with your money needs to be a personal endeavor – understanding your behavior, working on your habits, adjusting your plan, and celebrating all the accomplishments along the way toward funding your goals. Remember, you’ve been spending money in one way for a long time – the only way to change those habits is to be accountable.