The Blog

7 Reasons Your Budgets Don't Work and What You Should Do Instead

It's OK to admit defeat with your finances. And you are brave to ask for help. Do what's right for you, find a trusted support team, and start taking the little steps that move you forward. You deserve to have financial peace, and with a little diligence and a lot of push through, you can achieve it.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

It's not like you want to stay broke.

You keep creating a budget, promising that you're going to stick to it, and then it falls apart at the first sign of turbulence.

There's a reason you can't sustain your budget: you keep trying the same tactics year after year. You run an endless cycle that starts with tight wad and ends with, "I don't have much money anyway, so I may as well spend what I have now."

And when the cycle comes to crisis, you ask yourself, "Why does this keep happening to me?"

Truth: Nothing's happening TO you. It's just that nothing's happening FOR you. You keep repeating the same (wrong) thing, hoping that this time it will stick.

Over the years that I've spend working in banking, and now as a money coach working with one on one clients, I have uncovered seven reasons your budgets aren't working for you, and offer you ways to do it differently this time.

1. You don't have a support team. So build one!

You feel alone and as if no one gives a hoot about your broke state. Or worse, people you should be able to lean on have told you that they don't think you that you don't have a hope in hades when it comes to fixing your finances.

You have two choices here: Surrender to your victimhood and live the rest of your life feeling sorry for yourself. Or find people who are excited about your transformation and who will hold you accountable because they know you will succeed with a little extra support.

Reach out to friends, family members, coworkers, Facebook pals, business connections, and people on your sports team. Find one or two people who will hold you up when you're feeling down and celebrate your small and big wins.

2. You hate the budgeting software you're using. So change it to something you like.

I know a lot of people who really like And I know a lot of people who find it overwhelming and not user friendly. Yet they continue to use it, spending way too much time trying to figure it out.

Stop using money tracking software that confuses you. If tracking becomes too much of a chore or struggle, and you're spending more than 5 minutes a day on it, you'll start finding other tasks that take priority over your tracking. Anyone want to fold some laundry?

If you hate using the computer, start tracking on paper. If you detest the software you're using, but you still like punching in numbers on the keyboard, Google other money tracking tools or ask your friends on Facebook for recommendations.

3. You're not tracking your spending. Start now.

Tracking your spending does not have be a buzzkill. In fact, once you're in flow, you can keep your tracking to under 5 minutes a day. That means that you can plop yourself down on the couch with your favourite Netflix show, your few receipts from the day, and your laptop (to check your online banking so that don't miss any automatic ins or outs), and plug those numbers into your tracking tool of choice.

If this scares you, I get it. Many of my clients resist this practice because it brings up emotions like shame and anger. If you don't track, though, you miss a golden opportunity to see where you're hitting the mark and where you need to pull back.

Tracking also gives you the bones that you need to create a spending plan for the month, and for the year, which translates into you feeling as if you have some control over your money. Finally.

4. You self-sabotage. So watch for the triggers.

Self-sabotage is normal, so don't feel bad. Humans have a tendency to pull back when they're on the brink of success.

If you've saved for months with the plan to spend your money on a new-to-you-car, and then you've blown it on a last-minute trip to Mexico, you've self-sabotaged.

The secret to getting past the self-sabotage triggers is to become aware of your triggers. When you're feeling like you're about to go down the rabbit hole, stop and reach out to someone on your support team. Try to pinpoint through discussion or journaling why a situation or condition has pushed you to sabotage all your efforts to get your money stuff together.

5. You want instant change - and that's not going to happen. Be patient.

I don't tout get-rich plans. Heck, I'm not rich! But slowly, over the past 2 years since I had what I call my "money epiphany" when I discovered the connection between money and emotion, I have consistently paid down debt, grown savings that I've used to renovate our house, and lived within our means.

The most significant change you can invoke relatively quickly in your relationship with money is by understanding that money is merely a tool to buy you the necessities and niceties in life. You are not your money. When you break free of your money stress and give yourself back power over your finances, you'll be gentle and forgiving with yourself when your plans don't pan out.

6. You're under-earning. So earn more money!

When my clients take me through their finances and we've agreed that they've tightened their spending right down to the ground, but ends are not meeting, the next step is to grow the gap between their expenses and their income. In other words, it's time to make more money.

Do you feel resistance to doing what it takes to make more money? Do you tell yourself you don't have the time? Do you say out loud that there aren't any good jobs out there?

If you come up with excuses or reasons as to why you can't find a job or clients who will bring you more income, you have some limiting beliefs that you need to dig into. If you don't do the digging, you'll be robbing Peter to pay Paul for the rest of your life.

Look up your support team and find someone whom you can express your fears to. And make sure they will be honest with you and show you that with a little push-through you can find a job or client you like that will bring you more monthly income.

7. You're still overspending (even though you say you aren't). Dig into your needs and wants.

See number 3: Track your spending.

You're not tracking your spending. So you don't see where you're frittering away your dough.

For example, that sandwich and soda you buy every weekday at $12 a day? There's $240 spent in one month on eating out. Ask yourself why you aren't taking advantage of the free coffee at work and packing last night's over-the-top delicious leftovers.

A good way to get a handle on overspending is to figure out what gap you're trying to fill. Are you buying designer clothes at full-price because you're still trying to prove to your high school alumni that you can afford those clothes now?

Or do you spend too much on eating out because you don't know how to cook healthy meals? Time to look up that support team -- again -- and see who can help you with meal-planning.

It's OK to admit defeat with your finances. And you are brave to ask for help. Do what's right for you, find a trusted support team, and start taking the little steps that move you forward. You deserve to have financial peace, and with a little diligence and a lot of push through, you can achieve it.