Things happen. Sometimes you just can’t stick to your budget. But “things happening” can be kind of loose for some people.
Somethings are going to be easy. Like utilities, rent and mortgage, cell phone. It’s also pretty easy to stay in line if you’re being realistic. Thinking you can get by on a $25 grocery budget is not realistic. On the flip side, thinking you need $400 a month as a single person, is also not realistic. So, it starts with being realistic.
It also starts with stopping excuses at the door. Buying more groceries because you don’t want to eat canned black eyed peas and salmon is NOT a good reason to go over your grocery budget. Your friends wanting to go out on the 31st when your dining out budget is empty is NOT a good reason to go over your dining out budget. I understand. No one wants to be “that person” who’s all “no fun” because they’re on a budget. So you have those “friends” who tell you, “Live a little! You deserve it! Splurge with us!”
NO! You deserve to be out of debt. That’s what you deserve. I totally straight up passed on fancy coffee drinks because it wasn’t in the budget when I was digging myself out of debt. And you know what, people would buy stuff for me. Because to them, what’s five dollars so they don’t have to drink their coffee alone? It’s nothing. To me, it means I can pay all of my bills that month (yes, sometimes things are THAT tight).
Now that I’m out of debt, though, free coffees don’t happen anymore. LOL! 😂 But now I’M in a position to treat someone else. 😀
The thing is, things will always keep up coming up if you let them. There will always be a baby shower or a birthday or a night out or a great sale on shoes. They will be days when you open your fridge and you just don’t feel like eating yogurt and salad. But you do it. Because you have more important things to do with that money.
Now, honestly, if I still have money, like blow money or frou-frou spending money or even extra grocery money or something left, and a friend wants to go somewhere, I’ll go. I go over my dining out budget and cover it with blow money all the time. I did finally raise it $20 a few months ago, but the point is, I have to draw the line somewhere. I could spend $300 eating out if I let myself.
I’m also out of debt. You can be more flexible and “cheat” when you’re out of debt. I didn’t go over my dining out budget when I was paying off debt. I ate cereal for dinner. I still eat cereal for dinner. I love cereal. 😛
The important thing is, even when I go over a category, I’m not living above my means. It’s always money that I had extra in a category, it’s gift money, or it’s money I decided to spend instead of save. It’s not debt. I don’t overdraft. None of that. But this is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have flex money in your budget, no matter what stage to financial freedom you’re in. You gotta have some fun! And also, there are going to be spontaneous lunches and times you go a little over in a category. Everyone needs a little wiggle room. Some breathing space, if you will. 🙂
But drawing a line – that’s the point of a budget. I have a certain amount of money that I can spend before I can’t save or give and I’m wracking up debt again. The budget keeps me from living beyond my means. It keeps me from making ridiculous purchases. I can spend $200 in Ulta or Sephora or both pretty easily. I don’t need all of that stuff. I don’t need any of it. But I like bath products and skin care products and hair care products and mascara. Sure, I could go to Walgreens and buy mascara for $5, but that’s one of the few makeup products I actually wear. If I want to spend $30 on mascara, that’s totally my choice. But I don’t need to. So, if I can’t buy an extra tube of mascara without breaking my budget, then I can’t. Boundaries are healthy. 😀