While a budget can bring you freedom, it does not come without challenges, both internal and external. I'm not going to pretend that I can easily follow a budget and never run into any issues. Today, I'd like to share my top five budgeting challenges and how I handle them.
one. work environment
I work in the retail industry, so pressure to keep up with the latest trends comes with the territory. Which admittedly is a portion, albeit a small one, of how you are viewed as an employee. I do feel the need to keep up with what's trending, which can be dangerous for my pocket book. There are two ways to combat this. The first is to realize that you don't always need new clothes to be fashion-forward. You just need to get creative with what you already have! Second, if you want to embrace a trend, I suggest looking at stores like TJ Maxx. If I know something will most likely be out of style in a couple of years, I don't want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on it. Stores like TJ Maxx allow you to get in on a fashion trend without the steep cost!
two. eating healthy
It can be a difficult to strike a balance between saving money and eating healthy. It is no secret that processed food can be way more affordable than fruits and vegetables. This is where I embrace a few, simple meals to make over and over again. That doesn't work for everyone, but I am more than content to have some sort of burrito bowl for dinner almost every week.
three. maintaining relationships
Whether it's friends, family, or a significant other, maintaining relationships can actually cost you. From coffee dates to birthday presents to pretty stationary to write to them, it can hurt your wallet. But that doesn't mean it has to! There are plenty of free or low-cost ways to enjoy one another's company like going for a walk or making dinner together. Don't be afraid to suggest those kinds of activities in place of your usual (expensive) hangout!
It can also put you in a difficult position if you don't want to be the annoying friend that always says, "I can't. I'm on a budget." That's why it's helpful to set aside a certain amount "for fun" every month. That way when something comes up, you don't always have to be the friend that opts out and stays home. But again- don't be afraid to be honest. If they are a true friend, I have no doubt they will be more than understanding about your financial position!
four. goals and dreams
I'm a constant goal-setter and daydreamer, which can sometimes have an impact on my bank account. For example, I have a vision in my head of how I want my apartment decorated. But frankly, it's going to take a long time until I have everything I want to complete the look. I have to be okay with not having the *perfect* apartment as soon as I move in or a *perfect* wardrobe or the *newest* car or the most *fabulous* vacations. And guess what. Nobody has all that! And if they do, it's possible they went into debt to get there. Everyone is free to make their own choices when it comes to money, so just know that what you see on the surface does not tell the whole story! Figure out what things are most important to you and figure out a way to make your dreams a reality., even if it takes a lot of baby steps.
five. life happens
This month, I had my budget all set and knew exactly the things I was going to spend money on. And then I got hit with a cold. This extremely minor illness set me back through the purchase of tissues, cough drops, and a trip to Panera where I really channeled a treat yo-self mindset. No matter how hard we try and how far we think ahead, we can't plan every detail. For big setbacks, that is why it's important to set aside an emergency fund. For smaller setbacks, like my cold, I have to stay flexible with my budget and get creative. Maybe I get one less trip to the coffee shop or have to wait on those new shoes I was going to get this month. Always be prepared to roll with the punches- whether with your budget or just in general :)
What challenges do you face when budgeting and how do you combat them?