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I Used to Fail at Budgeting — Until I Did This 1 Thing – The Motley Fool

Image source: Getty Images

One change helped get me on track.


Image source: Getty Images

One change helped get me on track.

Key points

  • Budgeting is a great way to keep tabs on your spending and work toward financial goals.
  • My budget was a mess until I made one key change.

Following a budget is something I’ve been doing for a long time. But it’s not always something I was good at.

See, I’ve had a budget in place for many years. But in the past, I’ve had a hard time sticking to it. And if you’re not going to stick to your budget, then what’s the point of having one?

The good thing, though, is that I realized where I was going wrong and have since corrected for it. And these days, my budget is a lot more accurate for one big reason.

It’s important to be realistic about spending

My budget maps out all of my monthly expenses, from my mortgage payment to groceries to my cable and internet bills. It also includes line items for different types of savings — my emergency savings, my retirement plan, and my vacation fund, among other things.

For a long time, I found myself going over my budget on a regular basis. And when that happened, I thankfully didn’t rack up debt, so I wasn’t so motivated to address the issue. Rather, going over budget for me meant having less money to put into my savings account, retirement plan, and so forth. But since I was still contributing some money to those accounts, I didn’t push myself to make changes.

But I had a change of heart a few years back and realized there was no sense in setting up a budget I couldn’t stick to. And also, I wanted to meet the specific savings goals I’d mapped out for myself, even if they were somewhat aggressive. To make that happen, I had to make one big change to my budget — allocate more money for leisure spending.

Before I had kids, and when they were really young, it was easier to be frugal on the leisure spending front. Now, if I say no to leisure spending, it means telling my son we can’t go bowling with his friends or telling my daughters we can’t join their friends at the carnival. Those aren’t easy things to do. In other words, it’s one thing for me to sacrifice something I want in an effort …….


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