What Are Effective Budgets?

Budgets are a Continuum - All Together

Having a budget means, for some people, whipping out the calculator at every purchase, or viewing the budget on their mobile device in the grocery store. For others, a budget is just a formality and they never really glance at it.

Between these extremes are those who sort of use their budget with moments of obsessive adherence, or those who try but give up altogether because they go crazy trying to keep track of all the details.

Where’s the balance? How can you maintain a healthy outlook without obsessing or ignoring your budget?

Here are some tips on how you can cultivate a healthy outlook regarding your budget.

Flexibility

For those who tend to err on the obsessive side, it is a good idea to remember to be flexible with your budget.

Of course, flexibility doesn’t mean ignoring your parameters. But it does mean you can take a little from one area and cut back in another when necessary.

Get Your Partner/Family On Board

Nothing can make you more frustrated with a budget than lack of family participation.

Family members might just rack up expenses without giving the budget a second thought, leaving you to tear your hair out trying to balance it and cover the expenses.

If the whole family is included and on board with the budget, it can improve everyone’s outlook.

You Don’t Have to Keep Track of Every Penny

Some people avoid a budget because they don’t want the stress of keeping track of every cent spent. They’re right – that is stressful.

But it’s not the only way. Look into budgeting in a general way, or simply work out a list of expenses, income, and how much you have in the bank right now.

Customize

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your budget, and customize it for your or your family’s needs.

Your outlook is likely to be a lot healthier if your budget is suited for your income, expenses, and personality. Your family dynamic should also be taken into consideration when you create your budget.

Forgive Yourself and Family Members

Everyone makes mistakes and breaks the budget now and then.

Beating yourself up over a budget mess-up is not conducive to a healthy outlook, and neither is nagging and punishing family members.

If it’s a chronic “mistake,” it may need to be addressed in a civil family meeting. But to keep a healthy outlook, let the minor offenses go.

Know When It’s a Real Emergency

What constitutes an “emergency” can differ between people and family members. Dipping into the emergency fund for non-emergency expenses can deplete your money pretty fast. Make sure everyone knows what a real financial emergency is for you and your family.

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