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Updated: Jan 31

Over the last three weeks, we’ve covered ‘Why Budgeting is for Everyone’, ‘How Budgeting Shapes Your Financial Future’ and ‘Making it Simple and Effective’ using the EveryDollar budgeting app. Maybe you’ve tried budgeting in the past but gave up because of the hurdles or challenges you experienced. If so, this article is for you. 

Embarking on a budgeting journey is like setting sail on a financial adventure. However, just like any voyage, there are bound to be hurdles (or budget busters as we like to call them) along the way. In this guide, we'll explore common budgeting challenges and provide practical strategies to navigate through them, using real-world scenarios to illustrate how you can overcome these obstacles. 

Challenge 1: Unexpected Expenses

Imagine this scenario: you're cruising along smoothly with your budget when suddenly, your car breaks down. The repair bill throws a wrench into your meticulously planned budget. Unexpected expenses can be a major source of stress, but they are a part of life.

Practical Strategy: Create an Emergency Fund

One practical solution is to establish an emergency fund within your budget. Set aside a small amount each month specifically for unforeseen expenses. With an emergency fund, unexpected expenses go from a source of stress to a minor inconvenience. While paying off consumer debt, set aside $1000 for those unexpected emergencies and focus your extra on paying off debt. If you have paid off all consumer debt, then build your emergency savings up to 3-6 months of your monthly expenses. This way, when the unexpected occurs, you have a financial cushion to soften the blow without derailing your entire budget. 

Not everything is an emergency. To determine if you should dip into your emergency fund, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Is it unexpected?

2. Is it absolutely necessary?

3. Is it urgent?

If the answer is no to any of these, it probably isn’t an emergency. 

If you want to achieve financial peace, you must prepare for war! 

Challenge 2: Impulse Spending

We've all been there – you walk into a store with the intention of buying just one thing, but you end up leaving with a handful of items you didn't plan for. Impulse spending can quickly derail your budgeting efforts.

Practical Strategy: Implement the 24-Hour Rule

Before making a non-essential purchase, institute the 24-hour rule. Take a step back and give yourself a day to think about whether you truly need the item. This cooling-off period often helps to distinguish between impulsive wants and genuine needs, preventing unnecessary spending. This can happen in the grocery store, hardware store, department store and the on-line store! Develop the discipline to implement the 24-hour Rule to help you stay on track with your budget. 

Challenge 3: Inconsistent Income

For those with irregular income, creating a stable budget can feel like trying to catch the wind. How can you plan when you're unsure of what the next month's paycheck will look like?

Practical Strategy: Average Your Income

Take an average of your monthly income over the past few months. This provides a more stable and predictable figure to work with. On months with higher income, allocate the surplus to savings or debt reduction to even out the inconsistencies. You can read more about how to budget with an irregular income here

Challenge 4: Lifestyle Changes

Life is dynamic, and so are our lifestyles. Whether it's a new job, a move, or starting a family, significant life changes can throw your budget into disarray.

Practical Strategy: Regularly Review and Adjust Your Budget

Set a routine to review your budget regularly, especially during times of change. Adjust your budget to accommodate new expenses or changes in income. By staying proactive and making necessary adjustments, you can ensure that your budget remains aligned with your current circumstances. With 2024 just around the corner, now is the perfect time to look at your expenses incurred in 2023 and plan according for the new year. 

Challenge 5: Lack of Motivation

Budgeting can feel like a marathon, and maintaining motivation can be challenging, especially when faced with setbacks. We get it. Honestly, unless you are nerd (like me), budgeting is not fun but what you can focus on is what the budgeting process will do for you, today and for the long-term.

Practical Strategy: Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Small Wins

Define your WHY for budgeting and keep it in front of you. Break down your financial goals into smaller, achievable milestones and WRITE THEM DOWN! Share them with others. Celebrate each small win along the way. Whether it's paying off a credit card or reaching a savings target, acknowledging your progress can reignite motivation and keep you focused on the bigger picture. Check out this post to find more ways to stay motivated each month to keep on budgeting

Navigating the seas of budgeting doesn't have to be treacherous. By acknowledging common challenges and implementing practical strategies, you can steer your financial ship through stormy waters and towards the clear horizon of financial success. Remember, the key is not to avoid challenges but to equip yourself with the tools to overcome them. If you want to achieve financial peace, you must prepare for war! Your budget is one of the tools in your arsenal. Happy budgeting!

Become A Better Steward,

Greg Carroll

Legacy Financial Coaching


Whether you are financially frustrated or have big money goals, I help you take control of your money so you can live debt-free, build wealth and better steward your resources to create a lasting legacy. Find out what its' like to Work With Me.

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