5 Times It’s Ok to Bust your Budget
It always seems like budgets require perfection. If you bust your budget, it always seems like some sort of moral failing. There is always an assumption that everyone has the ability to meet their budget every month, and it’s not true. There are lots of reasons why you can’t make your budget work for certain months or certain years. Here are five times it’s ok to bust your budget and you don’t need to feel bad about it.
It’s Ok To Bust Your Budget If You Just Started
When I started working, oh so many years ago, I didn’t have any money. Surprise surprise. And you need a lot more money when you’re starting your career than when you’re continuing. You need a security deposit, furniture, clothing, the basics to set up your kitchen, etc. Further, it’s so important to invest early on so you get more time for compound interest. Every dollar you earn has a million extremely important places for it to go – and most of those decisions are good investments in your future.
It’s easy for me to follow a budget now because I have a fully stocked pantry, and I’ve been cooking on a budget for decades. I think a lot of personal finance writers/old people forget that starting adult life with your first job is very difficult. You do not know how to make a life work on your salary yet (and it might not even be mathematically possible). You’re going to make mistakes. It’s not a willpower thing, it’s a learning curve. You’ll get there. Keep trying.
You have Unexpected Expenses; It Happens
I know everyone says, budget for the unexpected! But how is that possible when there are thousands of expensive events that could happen to you at any given time. Like you can carefully plan, but what happens if an expensive car repair and a medical emergency happen before you save enough money for them?
The answer can’t just be ….save all your money in case something happens. Even if you did, it’s going to wreck your budget for the month. And it doesn’t matter! Sometimes you have to pay for things as they come along.
It’s Ok to Bust Your Budget if You’re Building Something
I wonder if people who think about budgets think about entrepreneurs or investors, or anyone who’s chasing a dream. Budgeting works best for those who are in a steady well-paying career and who don’t change. But that doesn’t mean that that’s a path that everyone should follow.
Most great things involve some upfront investment or uneven sources of income. Lots of successful people found they had to take low-paying jobs or internships or move to certain cities to make the connections to get ahead. Sometimes you’re chasing your passion, and it starts with low-paying gigs. Sometimes just surviving is fine.
You Have a Plan for Budget-Busting and, Later, Budget Soaring
When I was paying off my loans, I never met my budget. My expenses always exceeded my income, and I had a steady high income. But I had a plan for my money and that was to pay off my debt as soon as possible. In the end, I feel like I made the right decision. It doesn’t make sense for me to pay more in interest in the long-term just so I could make the arbitrary goal of meeting my budget.
It’s ok to think long-term for your budget. If busting your budget now means you’ll have less debt, or set yourself up for future success, that’s better than ok. Don’t be a slave to your budget just so you can brag to yourself that you’re being budget-conscious. Put your money where it will do the most good for you in the long-run.
It’s Ok to Bust Your Budget (Sometimes) If You Really Want Something
Ha, you thought this would all be prudent things didn’t you? But what if you just want to take an amazing yearlong trip? What if you want to quit your job? If you go to college or grad school, that’s going to bust your budget. These things will wreck your budget but personal finance is more than having your money look good to outside observers.
I took a year off after college to live in China. It wasn’t the right decision for my budget, but I don’t regret using the opportunity to be young. There’s time later for working. It’s true that you can make every decision based solely on your finances, but you’ll miss out on a lot of great opportunities that way. The best decisions don’t always make the best financial sense. If you go into opportunities with eyes wide open and are willing to work for them, that’s the best you can do.
Conclusion – Five Times It’s Ok to Bust Your Budget
Budgeting is typically an artificial enterprise of categorizing expenditures into pleasing groups. It’s kind of like tidying up your house but not the same as decluttering. You can arrange garbage in tidy groups and it’s still garbage. You can have all your treasured things in disarray and that doesn’t diminish the vision you see in the future.
What you should focus on is the life you want to live, the career you want to have, the experiences you want to live, the relationships you want to cultivate and keep – and figure out how money can help make that happen. That money can come in steady amounts paid over time, it can come in bursts and spurts – but so long as you keep your vision intact, you’re making progress toward your goals. And that’s what budgeting is really about.