Have you ever filled out a standard budgeting template, told yourself you were going to budget (“This month I’m finally going to do it!”), and then failed miserably? I’m sure you know exactly which budgeting template I’m referring to since they’re all the same: Income listed at the top minus a long list of all your monthly expenses, and then voila! you get that bottom number that says whether you spend less than you make or not. There’s your budget. Go forth and conquer! But you likely don’t because this way is just wrong. So, so wrong. We have been screaming about it ’til we’re blue in the face for more than 10 years now.
I’m here to tell you that if you attempted to budget by using this budgeting template, it’s not your fault. Queue Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting: “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Record scratch. Wait, what? It’s not my fault?
No, it’s not. And here’s why.
How Traditional Budgets Fail Most People
Those budgeting forms are crap! Crap, I tell you. They are setting you up for failure from the very start. Standard budgeting sheets don’t take into account one very crucial part of your life – the timing factor. See, most of us don’t get all of our paychecks on Day 1 of the month, then we don’t pay all of our bills on Day 2 of the month. And of course, if we say we’re going to spend $400 for groceries, we don’t do that all in one trip. We spend $120 this week, $140 the next. No one spends the exact same amount of money at the grocery store every week.
The traditional way of budgeting also doesn’t address what to do with extra money or how to handle a shortage of money.
The traditional budget template does not represent real-life. Yet people keep using them thinking they will dictate how we should spend our money. That’s why you fail at budgeting. It’s not because you are a failure. It’s because budgeting this way does not mirror the way you live your life.
The Plan Ahead Method
The way we budge and the way we teach our clients to budget is different. It’s designed to keep you engaged more than once a month and keep you looking forward, not categorizing expenses that have already happened. Bonus: You don’t need a bunch of cash envelopes either!
The thing that is revolutionary in the simplest of ways about the Plan Ahead is budgeting method is that it centers around the way and the time that you get paid. You budget based on the dates that you get paid, which is why it can work for everyone. If you get paid every two weeks, your budget should reflect that. If you get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month, your budget should reflect that.
We want budgeting to feel easy, and it’s hard for it to feel easy when you’re using a budget that doesn’t work for you. If you bought a pair of shoes that didn’t fit, you wouldn’t keep wearing them with the hope that one day they’d magically fit, especially if they’ve cut off circulation to your toes. You’d ditch them and get a new pair. Maybe it’s time to get a new budget.
To learn more about the Plan Ahead Budget and how it works, click here.