Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Joys of Budgeting

Budgeting is HARD

It's easy to sit down and create a budget on how much you are going to spend per month in each category but it is extremely difficult to stick to your budget.  I will admit that I still have difficulty staying on track.

Here are some common questions when it comes to budgeting:

1.) Do I have to stick to the exact numbers?
No.  Your budget should be viewed as a guideline.  Let's say for example, that you spent all of your food/grocery money by the 28th of the month and there is literally nothing to eat at your house.  Do you starve yourself until the beginning of the next month?  Obviously not.  If you already reached your food/grocery budget for the month it's okay to go get more food.  BUT it should only be for groceries and not for meals for dining out.

2.) Can my budget change every couple of months?
Of course.  Life brings on many exciting changes and you need to be able to be flexible to accomodate the neccessary changes.
I have a perfect real life scenerio.  A year ago, I started my first "big girl" job.  I try to be careful when I purchase clothes for work and try to select items that can be used for mutliple seasons.  However, living in the D.C. area, the winters can get very cold.  The only winter coat that I had was a fun sporty coat that I used in college.  Even though the coat kept me warm during my wonderful college years, I didn't view it as professional looking.  So in order to brace myself for the winter season, I invested in a high quality expensive coat that exceeded my shopping budget for the month.  However, I viewed this as a neccessary purchase.  I believe that it is important to be frugal but you need to know how/when to spend your money.  I could have gone to Forever 21 and purchased a cheap winter coat.  But it wouldn't have kept me warm nor would it have lasted between seasons.  I ended up buying a Calvin Klien peacoat but I know that I will be wearing it for many years to come.

3.) If you stick to such a strict budget every single month, how do you have the opportunity to enjoy yourself?
Budgeting does have it's limitations.  You might not be able to purchase a new purse every single month but I think it's a fabulous idea to treat yourself every once in awhile.  It could be something small as coffee from starbucks or something bigger like a mani/pedi.  How you treat yourself is up to you. But where does the money come from?  It can be from your savings category or shopping category or whatever you feel would be appropriate

Readers:  What is your biggest challenge when it comes to budgeting?

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