4 Questions to ask yourself about your budgeting

If you take managing money seriously, then you know how important it is to continue to learn and grow. You sit down at the end of the month (or however frequently – it’s your choice) to review your budget like a good money manager, then you look for ways to do even better. I love that about budgeting and it’s what I do in my own life.

Every December, I look over my budget and plan for the next year. I look at the progress I’ve made, where I went wrong, and the questions I still have. Then I plan for the next year with this reflection in mind. I always feel confident that I will have a good year because of my planning. I’d like to offer you some of the questions I ask myself when I review my own budget. Give these a shot if you want to take your money management to the next level.

Would my problems be solved with more money?

Obviously everyone wants more money. Sometimes, however, making more money isn’t necessary. Before you go for a second job that steals your precious free time, see if you can squeeze more money out of your existing budget. If you can find a way to meet your needs without that second job (or a raise with more responsibility), you’ll keep your free time to yourself. And if you have no choice but to make moves to make more money, you’ll know that it’s the best move to make in your situation.

Have I eliminated all my wasteful spending?

You can improve your budget (and save money) by getting rid of expenses for items that you don’t really need. The most obvious would be for purchases of things you don’t use anymore, such as memberships or subscriptions that you used to use but stopped enjoying a long time ago.

Keep in mind that you can resubscribe in the future if you ever decide you want to access it again. But for now, let it go. Your budget will thank you.

What else can I adjust to reach my goals faster?

If you really had to push yourself to find an extra $50 in your budget to put toward your goal, could you do it? Think deeply about how hard you’re working to accomplish your goals. I’m sure you’re doing just fine where you’re at, BUT if you want to turbocharge your efforts, dig deeper. Doing so may allow you to pay off a debt a few months faster, which means you get to move on with your life. So think about how you can move more quickly.

This is also a great way to test yourself. You’ll realize you’re capable of doing more than you thought when you meet that goal faster, and you may be encouraged to re-evaluate all your goals.

Is it doing everything I need it to do? Am I getting the most out of my life right now?

If you’re not pushing yourself to reach a goal, you’re most likely maintaining a nice status quo with your budget. How are you doing with that? Is your budget helping you to do everything you need it to do to allow you to lead the kind of life you want to live?

Sometimes we get so caught up in managing money that we manage to squeeze our life out of it. Take a step back and make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success and enjoyment. You can readjust as needed. It’s your budget after all – you need to make sure you can be happy with it. By the way, it can be natural to have these challenges in budgeting. If you ever need help, I’m here for you.

There you have it – four questions to help you improve your budgeting. This is by no means the complete list of things to think about but if you ask yourself these questions, you will see things change. Budgeting works for those who work at it. Trust in the process, keep up the good work, and you’ll see the progress you desire.

Specificity: The Key to Achieving Your Goals

“I’m going to pay off at least $21,500 in student loan debt next year”.

My heart skipped a beat. My palms started sweating, and it wasn’t because of the summer heat; my mind and body was sending me signals that I couldn’t do it.

“Hey,” I said to myself, cutting off the negative mental chatter. “I’m going to pay off at least $21,500 in student loan debt next year. I can do it. It will work”.

I was giving myself this pep talk last August on the eve of paying off an $8,500 debt. This seemed like a lot to pay off when I set the goal in December 2018, yet I managed to do it in nine months. It got me thinking of what else I could do.

“HEY! Listen. You can do this. You can reach this goal. Focus in and get serious”.

The part of me that was scared finally got on board and helped me break the goal into more manageable pieces.

“I’d need to pay off at least $1,791.66 each month. That’s $447.92 per week”.

“I’d also need to work at least 6 hours per week at my part-time job, as well as any overtime hours at my full-time job that I can get”…

The more specific I got with my goal, the more I believed I could do it. The specificity gave me objective proof that it was possible: the numbers showed me exactly what I needed to do to succeed.

Even though the goal was lofty to me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to achieve it if I followed my plan. The path ahead was as clear as day*.

Making your goals specific

You’ll need to set goals to better your finances. Whether you want to save money or pay down debts like me, you’ll need to decide what you want and come up with a plan of action. I think your goals should stretch you a little bit. If you always feel comfortable with your goals and plans, you aren’t growing as much as you could. So challenge yourself to go for the dreams that seem out of reach. You’ll be asking yourself to do something you’ve never done, and you may feel resistance as a result. If this happens and you start thinking of excuses for why you can’t reach your goal, get specific.

The great thing about goals is that you can break them down into the steps you need to complete them. You do this to create actionable steps that help you succeed. I didn’t have $21,500 on hand to pay off my debt. I knew if I wanted to succeed, I’d need to make $21,500 over the course of the year. That meant breaking my yearlong goal into monthly and weekly goals, and then figuring out how many hours I’d need to work each week. I even went as far as developing a spreadsheet to calculate this information in real time.

The end result was that my goal stopped being overwhelming and became doable. It put responsibility back on my shoulders by making my success or failure up to me.

When looked at in their smaller pieces, your goals will appear more manageable, too. From there, it’s just a matter of accomplishing the smaller tasks until you get what you want. If you’re ever feeling stuck, ask yourself how you could break what you’re trying to do into even smaller pieces. I can guarantee that by figuring out those smaller steps, you’ll feel more empowered to accomplish your goal.

Good luck, and happy budgeting!

*Unfortunately, I couldn’t predict COVID-19 or the effect it would have on the world. My industry has ground to a halt and, like everyone else in the world, I’ve been forced to put my life on hold. This includes pausing my goal. I’ve switched to using my emergency budget to protect my finances against economic further changes and I am using my time to learn about business and finance. When this ends, I’ll be ready to pick up where I left off. My plan may have changed but my goal has stayed the same.