It's the thing most of us want - intentionally spending our money: making purchases that bring us joy, not regretting a purchase, and stretching our dollars. Sounds good, right? It even sounds easy and simple. But here's the thing - its FAR from both of those. Yup. I won't lie to you.
While taking the step to manage your finances and spend intentionally is great and exciting, there are some challenges that people don't seem to be talking about. These things are important to talk about because we all face some of them at one point or another. And if you're really on this intentionally spending journey for the long run, knowing you're not alone in struggling is very encouraging.
In this post, we'll go over some of the possible challenges of intentional spending and simple ways that you can conquer them to maintain your hard work and goals.
Staying within your budget can be a challenge when it comes to social life. Social events can often result in going out and spending money. This habit quickly adds up. From family to friends to coworkers, our socials lives are are very important. They bring us joy, fellowship, and memories...but they can also cause us to spend without realizing it. No, not the person themselves, but the dynamic of a social setting.
Have you ever tried to cut back on spending and then got invited out? Or broke your budget to attend a certain event that you weren't all that interested in? Maybe you've went out and bought food or a drink when you didn't even feel like it, just because that's were you were hanging out.
The tricky balance here is still getting to attend gatherings and spend time with loved ones, without constantly breaking the bank. Budget + balance. Perhaps you have a set amount of what you're willing to spend in a month on social gatherings, outings, etc., which is a great start! Maybe you can cut back and find other budget-friendly activities, but there's no use in completely eliminating something that brings you joy just for the sake of saving money.
Sometimes, the biggest challenge can be that the people or groups you're socializing with may not understand your decision. When this has happened to me in the past, I wouldn't just decline or not attend events, but rather explain why I am excited to achieve this goal and suggest other events before the expensive ones are suggested (that way, you're not trying to change the plans, but rather make budget-friendly ones before anything else has been decided upon).
Of course, being surrounded by people who understand and encourage your decision would be ideal. My hope is that you can be open and honest about your goal of cutting back on spending, and that your loved ones will happily accept or even embrace your journey!
There are even steps that you could take together, such as:
trying some budget friendly activities
finding free outings rather than paid ones (there are SO many free events out there if you just spend a few minutes looking for them)
cooking dinner together for a night in rather than dining out (like your take on your favorite dish)
having a no-spend weekend together and finding free things to do (come on, how fun of a little challenge would this be?)
Staying on Track
Staying on track can be a challenge for many of us, especially while juggling many other priorities and responsibilities. We may not like it, but budgeting and tracking isn't always the top priority. I'll admit it - because I've faced this too!
When I first really started budgeting, I had months where I was just too busy, so I thought, to stay on track. And I'm sure you can take one guess where it led me - into UN intentional spending on little things that really added up! From then on, I found ways to stay on track in just a few minutes a month and developed a spreadsheet which really streamlined the process, and it made a HUGE difference. THIS is why I'm all about staying on track!
Especially at the beginning, finding a tracking method that works for you can take some time and energy. As well, finding the most suitable things to cut back on can be a bit of a learning process.
That being said, here are some resources to make starting out easier:
make your life more frugal with simple routines to keep yourself on track
find ways to budget when you're busy; down time, while you're waiting, etc.
start a budgeting spreadsheet (or buy one; I offer a template for you in the store)
Being Faced with Tempting Situations
You can prepare yourself for social situations, track track track, and STILL be faced with tempting situations. It's true. There are some times that it becomes really hard not to just splurge on something. An important point to make here is that there is a different between really TRULY wanting something and making the decision to buy it vs. splurging on something that you're not happy about. If that seems confusing, I get it, but trust me. Read below.
There are certain situations that make it a challenge NOT to just splurge. Like, a situation where you don't want to spend the money, don't have to spend the money, but just don't feel like doing the thing that saves you the money. And at the end of the day, its all up to you to decide what's most important to you and you get to make the decision. Kinda cool, right? And intimidating?
Let's use a smaller, daily example: you've had a long day and don't feel like cooking. And you don't want to dine out, but you don't even know what you'd cook if you were to make something. Hungry. Tired. Fast food? No. Save. But, I'm hungry! I sure hope I'm not the only person who's had this thought train go back and forth, back and forth...
Another situation could be that you've TOTALLY forgot it's a friend's birthday. The gift you want to get them is over your budget. Dang, if you'd just have shopped around for the past few weeks, you might've found a sale. Now you're faced with full price, or another gift...
Or, you're going grocery shopping and you didn't feel like checking the flyers beforehand. Maybe you don't even feel like reading the price tags on the shelves to see what's on sale. Its one of those grab, toss in the cart, and fly to the checkout to pay kinda days. I feel you.
So, what is the "solution" for these tempting situations? The help for when you just don't feel like doing "the thing"? Whatever "the thing" is for you, try your very best to be prepared to it. Remember why you started. Think about your goals. Think about what you can do to get there. Consider how you can prepare before you're in the "I don't feel like it" situation. This has been a HUGE help to me, because if I didn't prepare for situations before they came, I can almost guarantee you I would never happen to feel like it when I needed to.
Here are some ways to be prepared for when moments like these come (because, life happens):
have a list of go-to easy dinners for when you don't feel like cooking
have some freezer meals ready for quick dinners when you really don't feel like cooking
look at birthdays/events for the month in advance and keep an eye out for budget-friendly gift ideas
make it a weekly routine to look through sale flyers & grocery shop afterward
Being Patient with Results
Patience. It's not easy. Sadly, results don't always come quick. Most times, they take sweet, sweet time. As motivating as saving money can be, it does take some time to add up.
On a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis, it can be hard to keep the motivation to put in the effort to spend intentionally. Even cutting back $20/week, while it may not seem very exciting now, can add up to over $1,000 in a year. If all that $20 costs you is avoiding a few purchases a week that you really don't care for anyway, it could be well worth the effort over time.
Some things to help you stay motivated:
try crunching the numbers - and if you don't feel like crunching them, I've got a spreadsheet to do it for you
remember why you started and consider what intentional spending means to you
take a look at how far you've come; remember all the times you've felt like this before, and how happy you are that you've kept working at your goals
Not only are there challenges, but some challenges can be so hard to combat if you aren't prepared that they actually end up resulting in unintentional spending and breaking your budget...but you've got this! Life isn't perfect, and of course there will be challenges in everyone's journey of intentional spending and cutting back.
But thankfully, intentional spending is not about perfection. It is also not about never dining out, giving extravagant gifts, or paying full price for an item you really like. Its about moderation, and spending with intention. Always.
What's the biggest challenge you face with intentional spending and saving money? Comment below!