The one reason why budgets don’t work

I spend more than I have. That’s the reason. And having a budget has never helped me to correct this behaviour. Ever. Instead my failure to keep to a budget has encouraged me to believe that no amount of budgeting will ever work.

And yet there’s a weird dynamic going on with my spending which suggests that if only I went about budgeting differently the task might serve me.

The weird dynamic is this: for someone who doesn’t appear to have the willpower to reduce my spending, I’ve managed to do it unconsciously.

Two years ago I asked and was given a day off each week. This means I now take home substantially less than I used to. At the same time my living expenses have risen — not insanely, but by several hundred pounds each month which combined with the loss of income means that I have a lot less spare cash each month.

Despite this, in the last two years I’ve managed to clear my credit card debt and create some savings. To the extent that I dip into my overdraft facilities* (each and every month), technically I still incur debt. This is the evidence that I spend beyond my means. Just. I’m sort of under control since dipping into your overdraft isn’t the same as other debts, is it? I mean, I clear the debt every month, right?

More importantly, how did I get sort of under control in the past two years … when I’ve lost income and gained expense?

I’ve unconsciously adjusted my spending.

Since I never used to monitor my spending it’s almost impossible to go back in time now to to work out what sort of thing I once spent more money on than I do now …. My mid-thirties saw a few years of unusually high spend on clothes and travel. I’m sure that explains some of the discrepancy.

This weird dynamic whereby I am managing to adjust my spending without any conscious effort to do so, brings me onto this week’s assignment from the seven of diamonds.

My task is to consider all the ways in which budgets let me down — to dig deeper into why the task has so far failed to help me change my behaviour … when obviously, as the past two years prove, I can change.

The second part of my assignment is to make a decision.

It’s time to either forget about budgeting completely or to re-think how to make budgeting work for me.

It’s time to break the stalemate.

*I don’t think this word exists in the US? For my American followers, overdrafts refer to the amount your bank will allow you to over draw on your account … for a charge. So it’s like a temporary loan. Each month my salary goes into my account and wipes out the debt until at some point during the month I start eating into my overdraft all over again …

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