You created a household budget not too long ago, and it’s gone pretty well. You, or you and your partner, participated in regular meetings on how to adjust various categories and discussed what should and shouldn’t be added. You’re pretty satisfied at its progress. And yet you feel something cloudy settling inside your brain. It’s the budget blues.
You’re starting to get lazy. The receipts are piling up, bank statements haven’t been reconciled and your regular meetings aren’t so regular anymore. Chalk it up to other things taking up your time or a lack of energy. Either way you look at it, the budget is being neglected, and you can tell it is by the fact it isn’t showing you the same numbers as it did when you keep close watch.
Don’t feel too bad about this, because it happens to everyone who puts together and maintains a household budget. Regardless if they add the numbers in a ledger book or on Quicken, people sometimes look at the material and try to find something else to do in order to reconcile a monthly bank statement or properly distribute funds to different categories. Don’t fret, because there are some things you can do that may help beat those budget blues. Here are a few examples.
Show the budget with pride. In many cases the budget paperwork hides inside a ledger or as code inside a computer, which makes people less than enthusiastic to pull them up again. To avoid this think about printing up a copy of the budget summary and posting it on a wall nearby the location where the paperwork is normally done. This allows you to be reminded of it every time you sit down. Of course, if you start avoiding the location, then you have another problem.
Prepare a debt deduction list. In addition to the summary, a separate debt deduction list should be prepared and, like the budget, attached to the wall. This list should have the names of the creditors, the amount owed and the final total. List the debts from smallest to largest and cross them off each time you pay one off. By using a program like Excel, the amount owed can automatically be reduced as the numbers change. This can help shine a light at the end of the debt tunnel and encourage you to start budgeting again.
Create a want list. There is no such thing as a want when you prepare your budget with a prime goal of reducing debt. All that’s listed are needs — food, rent/mortgage, transportation, etc. However, this doesn’t mean you should put all of your wishes on the back burner. Next to the budget summary and your debt reduction list put together a detailed description of all the wants of you and your family. Seeing your budget work in combination with debt reduction may allow you to achieve some of those wants quicker than you think.