You’ve read all the financial gurus’ books. You set up a fancy spreadsheet to track your spending. You follow 20 personal finance blogs. You’ve even switched to a cash envelope system. Still, your budget just isn’t panning out.
When I first got serious about personal finance, I dedicated myself to following all of Dave Ramsey’s teachings. You know: ditch the credit cards, pay down debt, focus on frugality, and use a cash envelope budgeting system.
Paying off my debt and swearing off credit cards was the easy part, but when it came to budgeting, I failed miserably.
I’ve tried many different budgeting methods over the past seven years, and I’ve discovered there’s no “one size fits all.”
Here are three common budgeting problems you might have (and how to solve them):
1. You can’t stick to the cash envelope system
Neither can I. My first personal finance strategy was simple: follow all of Dave Ramsey’s advice.
The problem, though? Ramsey claimed I would feel the sting of spending cash – but I didn’t. To me, letting go of cash was simple and, therefore, it went fast. My cash envelopes would be depleted before the month was halfway over.
For me, using my debit card was painful. I’d be extra cautious before swiping because I knew the money was coming out of my bank account. Then when I balanced my checkbook, I’d feel that sting again.
Solution: Using the cash envelope system can be beneficial, but it’s definitely not for everyone. If you spend cash like you drink water, then try using your debit card. You can link your checking account to a free service like Mint.com and monitor your spending in different budget categories.