Top Budgeting Fails and How to Avoid Them

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When I was in college I met someone who changed the way I looked at money. No, it wasn’t a crush, professor, or the man from Rich Dad Poor Dad It was a classmate, who then became a close friend. Let’s call her Rhea.

And no, I didn’t learn money saving tips from Rhea. Instead, I learnt how to NOT deal with money. She was full of terrible decisions. She’d buy at whim, party every weekend (and on weekdays) and be broke by the 15th of every month. She’d then survive on bread and jam, not go out, and keep adding her next purge items to her cart. By the 22nd of each month Rhea would be completely broke. I mean, having ₹20 in your wallet broke. And because we were in college, she could make that frantic call to her parents.

And I don’t blame her. We’ve either been her or have been close to it. So, instead of telling you how to budget and how to save, I’m going to dedicate this piece to Rhea (and her dad) and tell you how to NOT budget or save. 

Here goes...


Do NOT go into the month unprepared 

Rhea jumped into every month like there’s no tomorrow.. She never knew what was coming her way and always thought she’d find some way of dealing with being broke.

Not trying to scare you here but have an idea of your upcoming expenses. Try dividing it into regular expenses, probable expenses, and the ones which are possible, but not too likely. Knowing what to expect not only helps you plan better, but also takes out the stress of playing the guessing game with your bank balance. And well, rough estimates are better than no estimates at all.

Do NOT party like you’re Gatsby

I know it’s the 20’s but it really isn’t roaring, is it? One thing Rhea taught me was that not every night is a party night. Especially if it’s your own money. And no, parties aren’t always the loud boozy nights. Even ordering in or putting on skincare before you sleep with a glass of wine is a party. On behalf of Rhea’s dad, please don’t spend on whim. Whims can’t be contained on a budget sheet and you’re bound to overspend.

Do NOT go on with the budgeting excuses 

This one's for me as much as it is for you - Stop with the excuses. You won’t know what your spending habits are, and why you run out of money, if you don’t actually budget. 

So please, no more of “I’ll do it next month”, or “I feel bad when I do it”. The only way this loop ends is by you starting to budget. You don’t have to start off with an excel sheet or pie charts. Choose what you are most comfortable with - your notepad or a book. And start scribbling those spending plans.  

Don’t go overboard

Let’s suppose I convinced you enough to start noting your expenses and where you can save. What now? You might realise how much you spend. You’ll panic, and decide to save more. And while that’s good, it’s best to keep things realistic.  Have you ever tried to skip dinner because lunch was heavy? I did, and it made me hungry, cranky, and craving for double the food- all in the middle of the night. Budgeting works the same way. If you try to reduce all your expenditures, you’re going to hate it. It’ll frustrate and worry you. You’re more likely overestimate how much you saved, and blow it all on that one ‘cheat’ item. 

To break it down..

It’s true, budgeting isn’t a piece of cake. So many of us keep pushing it because the very act worries us. No one likes it when they see how much they spent on that one insignificant thing. With that said, keep in mind that only you know what your budget is. Only you know what value the things in your expenses hold to you, and how flexible you are with them. No matter how concerned Rhea’s dad was about his daughter’s spending habits, no one could bring that budgeting into her life like herself. Maybe for her that new decor lamp held more value than fixing her shower. And no one could get it, but her. A common understanding of budgeting is the 50:30:20 rule. If it fits for you, go ahead. But remember, budgeting is super subjective so don’t be afraid to create new ratios you want to work with.

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