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Why is sticking to a budget can be SO HARD? It was even hard for me when I first started my financial journey; and it’s something I work towards every day. Budgeting can be tough, and you may feel so discouraged if you always have trouble sticking to yours. Find out 9 reasons why sticking to your budget is so hard, and how you can change that.

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Why Is Sticking To A Budget So Hard?

  1. Your Budget Is Unrealistic

The first reason why sticking to a budget is so hard is because your budget is probably unrealistic. Sometimes we cut back so much on certain things in our budget that it becomes unrealistic. It’s easy to underestimate in categories where the expense isn’t fixed (like groceries and gas).

Solution

If you see that you’re constantly overspending in certain areas that means your budget wasn’t realistic and you need to increase your budget in those areas. However, keep in mind if you’re going to increase your spending in one area, it means you have to cut spending in other areas too.

  1. You Don’t Have Self-Control

prepaid debit card (why your budget doesn't work)

A big part of sticking to a budget is practicing willpower and self-control. Having a budget will require you to say “no” sometimes. You cannot give into impulse purchases. If you don’t have self-control, you will always have a hard time sticking to a budget.

Solution

Have an accountability partner or someone you can call when you’re tempted to buy when you should be saving. This person can be a friend, family, mentor, or financial coach.

  1. You Haven’t Found The Right System For You Yet

Another reason why sticking to a budget is so hard is because you having found the right system for you yet. There’s a lot of trial and error involved when it comes to budgeting. Sometimes it takes a few tries before you can find a system that works well for you.

When I first started my personal finance journey, it took me THREE tries before I could find a budgeting system that worked well for me. So you might have a hard time sticking to a budget because you haven’t found the right system for you yet.

Maybe you’re using cash envelopes, when you would do better with an Excel spreadsheet. Or maybe you’re using an excel spreadsheet when you would work better with a printable budget worksheet. There are so many options and methods of budgeting that you need to find what works best for you.

why sticking to a budget is so hard

Solution

If you find you’re having a hard time sticking to your budget, consider trying a new method. You can read my detailed article “How To Choose The Right Budgeting System For You: 5 Budgeting Systems” to give you an idea of some other budgeting methods you can use.

Remember that you should also make changes in your budget when necessary. Your income, expenses, and priorities will change over time; therefore your budget is constantly evolving as life changes. So it’s okay to adjust your budget accordingly—but always make sure you have a budget and review it regularly to see if this method is still working for you.

I would also recommend hiring a financial coach if you’re tired of doing things on your own. Find someone who’s an expert in their field and has experience working with other people in similar financial situations as yours.

Hiring a financial coach can save you money and help you avoid mistakes you may make by trying to do things on your own. I have mentored dozens of people to help them reach their financial goals. I can help guide you and make a tailored financial plan for your specific situation.

So, if you would like to work together contact me for a FREE 15-minute consultation to see how I work with my clients.

  1. You Don’t Have Any Financial Goals Set

planner

It’s hard to stick to your budget if you don’t have any financial goals. You need to know why you’re budgeting. What is the purpose or the end goal? Maybe it’s to save more money or get out of debt. Whatever the reason, you need to make clear financial goals so you have a reason to keep going.

Those with goals are 10x more likely to succeed. People who identify their goals and work towards them usually accomplish their goals, and accomplish them quicker. So if you don’t have any goals or plans for your money, you will most likely do nothing.

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Solution

It’s important to have a clear goal in mind so that you know exactly what you are working for and what you need to do to get there. Ask yourself what do you want out of life? Where do you want to be next year, five years, ten years or thirty years from now? Make goals and prioritize them.

To achieve your goals, they need to be written out and planned for. Make your financial goals clear and use the acronym SMART. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

SMART:

  • You want to make your goals as specific as possible;
  • Measurable so that you can track your progress and know when you’ve achieved your goal;
  • You want to make your goals realistic and achievable;
  • Your goals should be relevant to your overall plans in life; and
  • Finally, you want your goal to have a time limit where you set an end date to achieve your goal.


Using the SMART method brings more structure and clarity to your goals. Once you know what you want to accomplish, break those goals down into smaller milestones. Achieving these smaller goals will help you stay motivated to stick to your budget.

Related Article: How To Set Realistic Financial Goals You Can Actually Accomplish

  1. Other People Influence You

Why is Sticking To A Budget So Hard

Keeping up with the Joneses can be a serious problem for some. The term “Keeping up with the Joneses” means always wanting to own expensive objects and do the same things as your neighbors and friends because you are worried you will not appear to be on the same social status as they are. Keeping up with the Joneses is detrimental to achieving your financial dreams.

It can be very difficult trying to stick to a budget while being around family and friends that have no interest in saving money.

I get it, I was just like you! I bought all types of material things to impress people and to show my clients I was a successful lawyer. And in a way, sometimes it’s necessary (no one wants to hire a lawyer that looks homeless…that must mean you’re not very good at your job, right?); but I was taking it too far. Don’t get pressured into doing things just because your peers are doing it too.

Solution

If you feel like peer pressure is getting the best of you, take a break from social media and everyone around you that’s putting you in this mindset. Give yourself a break from those things that make you feel like you just HAVE that new bag or take that exotic trip.

Also, stop caring about what other people think of you. A lot of the time, we find it hard to tell people “no” because we don’t want them to think we’re cheap, or worse broke. If you’re constantly trying to keep up with everyone because you want to appear rich, you’re killing your financial future. You will always BE broke if you don’t get your financial priorities in order.

Finally, start hanging around friends with similar financial goals as you. If you hang out with like-minded friends that are trying to save money too, you will almost always spend less. So hang out with people who respect your financial goals.

  1. Your Budget Is Too Strict

use a property manager or not

A lot of people’s budget fail because it’s just too restrictive. The first place we look to cut out expenses is our hobbies and entertainment because it’s not what you would consider a “need.” The problem with that is if you don’t allocate money to some things you enjoy doing, it’s simply not going to work.

It’s like having a strict diet and not allowing yourself to have a cheat meal. Cutting out all the fun things is going to make you hate budgeting. If you hate budgeting, you’re simply not going to do it and quit.

Solution

Decide ahead of time how much you’re going to spend on things you enjoy doing—but keep it reasonable. You can still have fun and stay on budget.

Related Article: How To Have A Social Life On A Budget

  1. You Don’t Plan For Emergencies

Another reason why sticking to a budget is so hard is because you don’t plan for emergencies. If an emergency happens, and you don’t have an emergency fund, it will throw your budget off. An emergency fund is a separate savings account that helps you prepare for unexpected expenses.

Preparing for the unexpected is necessary if you want to stick to your budget. Not having an emergency fund makes it very hard to stick to a budget because if an emergency happens, your entire budget will get thrown off.

Solution

If you don’t have an emergency fund, I suggest you start saving towards building one. I recommend you have an emergency fund of 3-6 months worth of necessary expenses. Read my detailed article “How To Build An Emergency Fund” if you need more help. This article will help you figure out how much you need to save for your particular situation and where to store your emergency fund money.

  1. You Feel Like You’re Not Making Any Progress

Paying Debt Vs. Saving

Sticking to a budget is hard if you feel like you’re not making any progress. It’s easy to get discouraged if you’ve been working on your finances for a while and haven’t seen any significant results.

But remember, if you’ve been putting in the hard work and not seeing any immediate results, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your efforts have been in vain.

Solution

If you tried to budget in the past and failed, don’t give up! Take some time to figure out what went wrong. Did you have any of the problems I mentioned above?

Once you see what mistakes you made, take the time to make any corrections and start the next month with a fresh start. Keep working on it and adjust the numbers up and down as you need to.

If you feel like you’ve been on the right track, but don’t see any significant results, it might be time to speak to a professional. Maybe you’re making a few mistakes you’re not even aware of.

A financial coach can help you assess your situation and come up with a custom plan to help you accomplish your financial goals faster.

Sign up for a FREE 15-minute consultation to see how I can help you achieve your financial goals faster.

  1. You Don’t Have The Personality For It

Some of us are not the most organized or have great impulse control. So because of that, we don’t all need to budget the same. Methods that work for me, might not work for you.

I personally like budget spreadsheets, but the sight of a budget spreadsheet might turn you off. If this describes you, explore other methods of managing your money without spreadsheets—such as cash envelopes or printable budget worksheets.

Related Article: How To Use The Cash Envelope Method

Solution

If you need help figuring out what budgeting method is best for you, read my article “How To Choose The Right Budgeting System For You: 5 Budgeting Systems.”

Test out a few budgeting systems to see what works for you. If you have trouble with impulse purchases, I suggest you have an accountability partner that you can call in times of weakness.

Again, this is an area where hiring a financial coach can be very beneficial. Your coach can serve as your accountability partner and help you come up with a budgeting method that works best for your personality.

Click HERE if you would like to be added to my coaching waitlist and be amongst the first to be notified when doors reopen.

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Summary

Sticking to a budget can be incredibly hard, but I hope with some of these solutions you’re able to stick to your budget more often. It takes time to build up these healthy financial habits, so you just have to constantly work at it. Over time, it will get easier and you will become more disciplined.

Finally, if you still have a hard time sticking to a budget, don’t struggle alone. If you think your situation is just too overwhelming and you need some help figuring out where to start, sign up to be added to the waiting list for my 1-on-1 coaching session.

With 1-on-1 coaching, I will make a customizable plan for your particular situation. You can choose to just have one meeting with me so I can point you in the right direction. Or you can opt for a monthly program if you need ongoing help and someone to hold you accountable.

If you want to remember this article, pin it to your favorite Pinterest board.

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stick to your budget pin