It’s obvious right?
You’re just not disciplined enough, not dedicated enough, not committed enough to stick to your budget. If that’s the voice you hear in your head, listen up. I have some information you may want to consider before you try to muscle your way through another budgeting session.
Budgeting in the traditional sense is a system you establish to tell yourself how much you can spend in a particular category. While yes it can be effective and work for some, traditional budgeting is going to fail for most. And it’s not because the majority of us aren’t smart enough, motivated enough, or dedicated enough. Its because when you establish a limit, you have to use self-control, or will power, to adhere to the limit. Right there is the issue.
See self-control is an exhaustible asset. You can run out of it much like you experience muscle fatigue lifting weights.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’re in the grocery store and you see a little something extra. It’s not a lot of money but it’s not “in the budget” so you have to make the choice, do you stick to the budget or do you fudge it a little? Do you rationalize it and tell yourself, “I’ll just make up for it later?”
Yeah… you know what you’re most likely to do.
But lets just say you say no in this instance. You’re feeling pretty dedicated to this budgeting thing and it felt easy to say no.
Now let’s say you continue on and head to check out and while you’re in line the person ahead of you has an issue. The manager gets called in. No one seems to know what to do and although everyone apologizes for the inconvenience the whole thing takes close to 10 minutes to resolve and your patience is starting to wear thin. But you make it out without complaining or even throwing a nasty glare (at least none that anyone saw).
You load the groceries in your car and as you get in your car your cell phone rings. It’s your mom, something’s shown up on a mammogram and she has to go back for some more testing. You chat and assure one another that it’s probably nothing and no need to get upset until you know more.
You head over to the wine store to grab a bottle of wine to take to your friend’s house for dinner and while you’re there you’re offered a sample of their feature wine of the week and the nice sales person tells you about the special pricing. Your friend is a white wine kind of person, you’re more of a red and the featured wine happens to be a red from you’re favorite region.
Oh the dilemma!
Remember an extra bottle of wine (or two) is not in the budget. Although you skipped the something extra at the grocery store, guess what your chances of skipping the extra wine are? Yep… slim to none!
Know why? It’s because you exhausted your self-control. Self-control isn’t about just saying no, it’s about regulating yourself, being careful with your words and paying attention to your actions. In the example I just gave, you would have used self control in the check out line remaining calm, then some more, probably a lot more, controlling whatever emotions were rising to the surface during your call with your mom. By the time you got to the wine store there was very little left in reserve.
Life is full of trying things. We are constantly bombarded with interactions that zap our energy and ware us down. When we rely solely on self-control to meet a budget number, we will fail because we will inevitably run out of that self-control at some point.
So no, you’re not bad a budgeting. You’re just human.
But what is one to do? Give up?
No of course not. The most effective way to keep your spending in check is to
To Be Continued…
Don’t you hate cliff hangers?
If you can’t wait for the next post to get the answer I’ll give you a hint… the answer is in Lesson 4 of my course Mastering Your Cashflow. When you purchase it you will get immediate access to Lesson 4 and the rest of my secrets to mastering our cashflow without the pain and frustration of traditional budgeting. (PS – you can even skip right to lesson 4 if you want, I won’t tell.)