Don’t let budgeting overwhelm and anxiety get the best of you! Here are 6 tips on how to move past it!

You’ve figured out all your numbers, you’ve collected all your bills. You’ve added it all up (probably 14 times), but it’s just not working!  

“Son-of-a-biscuit!”

  (It’s okay, you can say it, I won’t tell your kiddos.)

Mama, I hear you, and I feel your frustration. This sucks, no doubt about it! But, you can’t quit budgeting! You need to figure this out!

Ugh, why?!?

Because your relationship with your money is one that you’ll carry your entire life (the only other relationships that you have that long are your relationships with food, and yourself). You have to figure this out now, as money problems only grow bigger with time. You can’t be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand and think everything will just go away because it won’t.

Learning how to budget effectively is a skill that you develop over time, with trial and error. Lots of people get overwhelmed with budgeting. That’s normal, and it’s okay. Take a break, and come back to it when you’re in a better headspace.  

I’m here to help, and after reading this post, you’ll know the most common reasons why people quit budgeting and how to move past the overwhelm!

You’ve got this!

reasons you want to quit budgeting

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What does budgeting overwhelm feel like?

This sounds like a silly question, but it’s totally valid. We are all individuals, and we feel things differently. You could feel 

  • discouraged
  • anxious
  • angry (at yourself, others and the situation)
  • irritated
  • ambivalent
  • tired of it all
  • hopeless
  • sad
  • foolish & stupid (which isn’t true!)

You should recognize these feelings. Don’t push them aside. Recognize and let yourself feel all the feels. Give yourself a bit of time and then reflect on your emotions.

You just don’t want to dwell too long, nor too deep. Don’t let your feelings overcome you. No, I’m not a psychologist nor a licensed professional. What I am is a person who’s experienced a lot, and I know if I shove feelings and thoughts aside, they just fester. Or, if I let myself wallow too long, it becomes tough to find a way up out of the darkness. You don’t want that.

You want some space, decompress and then get back to it!

In America, money & anxiety go hand in hand

If you think you’re alone in being stressed out over money worries, let me reassure you, you are not! Mobile-banking company Varo Money “polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults and found that, while a whopping 85 percent say they “sometimes” feel stressed about money, a full 30 percent say they’re “constantly” stressed about their finances.”

What fears are driving these concerns? According to a survey by LendingTree, “Topping the list of concerns were unexpected expenses (43%). Making ends meet was a worry for one-third of everyone asked (34%), followed by healthcare costs (29%).”

It’s the 34% figure that we’re talking about today because budgeting is precisely what can help those who can’t make their money stretch to cover everything. Yet, so many times people get frustrated and overwhelmed, and they quit budgeting, or trying to save money, or whatever it is. They are so close to success, they just need to hold on!

I talked with many women about how financial stress makes them feel (like deep in their bones type of real). Check out that post to see if you connect with any of them, and can relate. I know that I feel so much better when I can say, “OMG, that’s exactly how I feel! So glad I’m not the only one!”

Yes, the 34% are general money concerns, but getting a solid budget in place and being consistent with it is what will get you to the other side of fear! Yet, the anxiety and overwhelm with budgeting may stop you before you get to step #1, which is making your first budget!

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3 most common reasons for wanting to quit budgeting

1. Budgeting just doesn’t work for me, I’m not getting it!

Breathe. It’s okay. So many people go through this phase. You’re feeling like all new students feel.  

Maybe you’re trying to jump in at Chapter 4 when you need to start at Chapter 1. Slow down, and start at the beginning! When we feel like we know a topic, we skip ahead. Skimming a post will save you time, and it may cost you!  Sometimes you just need to hear something at a specific moment, at a particular point in your life for it to click!  (full discloser, I think Marie Forleo said this, or something really close to it, but I can’t for the life of me find her quote, sorry)

Or maybe you need to find a new teacher, if you’re reading a book and the author is just confusing you like crazy then find a different book from a different author. They might be booooring, or they’re a jerk. Or worse yet, you just can’t relate. There are tons of money gurus out there, find your flavor!

Or maybe you need to find a different way to learn. I love to read, but with some topics, it just doesn’t compute. I found that watching YouTube videos (where I can see people doing what I need to do) works so much better for certain things. If only I would have figured this out sooner!

Along this train of thought is the idea that “I’m just not smart enough”.  

Oooohhhh, girl, hell no! In fact, fu*k that!

This is such an easy trap to fall into, and that’s exactly what it is, a trap. You are smart, hell the sheer fact that you are reading this means you want to do better. You want to learn, you just need a bit of patience and a bit of practice. That’s all.  Point blank PERIOD! (Thanks 2016 for that vernacular gem!)

2. Why even bother budgeting, I’ll never have enough money anyway!

This can be a hard one to admit to yourself and an even harder one to manage. You are your own best cheerleader and your own worst enemy. Your money mindset is so powerful (even if you don’t believe that having a money mindset is a thing)!

Yes, right now, you may be short on cash and on prospects. But I never, ever want you to sell yourself short and think that you won’t be all that you dream in your heart!

Hey, you remember a woman who once lived in an apartment with her baby daughter? You know, the woman with the abusive ex-husband from a short marriage, no job, no real furniture to speak of, threats of her electricity being shut off in her government-assisted housing? Oh, and lets through thoughts of suicide along in there too. 

And now she’s worth a rumored $1.2 billion! Yeah, the highest-paid author in the world, JK Rowling was once poor with no prospects. She never quit writing! Yes, she changed stories, characters, and plots but she never quit! Budgeting is like writing, there are lots of ways to do it!

Now, you may not be the next rags to riches story, but your potential is mainly limited by what you believe!

Even if you don’t make that much money, it’s even more critical to make every dollar you spend to count towards your goals! You need to plan, be purposeful, and be positive!

If buying a new shirt isn’t going to help you toward your goals, then that means it’s taking you away from your goals. Some may call this self-sabotage. Call yourself out (gently), and then recommit to your goals. Do this as many times as it takes!

JK Rowling quote on choices

3. I’m busting my budget every month, what’s the point!

Budgeting isn’t a set it and forget type of thing. Its fluid, it was made to be tweaked, adjusted, and sometimes totally scraped and start fresh! Yes, you can quit a type of budgeting method, you just need to find a different one that will work for you!

What we need to do is figure out why your numbers aren’t aligning up as they should.

  1. Math errors.  Believe it or not, this totally happens. Double-check, and triple-check it again. Make sure you’re looking at your take-home pay and not your gross salary. Make sure that you’re allowing for interest to grow on your debts. Understanding how interest rates fees add up is essential, as this is a cycle that so many get caught in and can’t find a way out of.

  2. You tried to cut spending too drastically.  Yes, things may look good on paper, but living those dollar amounts out is a whole different story. It’s not realistic to take an $800 a month eating out spending habit, and then taking it down to $160 month and expect it to go peachy. If you tried this then no wonder it didn’t work out as you expected it to! Don’t waste another minute feeling bad about it; just focus on progress (not perfection).

  3. You picked the wrong budgeting method.  There are a lot of different budgeting methods to choose from, and the best one is the one that you can stick to! Yup, trial & error here again. Check out the post linked above to see all the seven main types of budgeting methods, and who they work best for.

  4. You have a vampire.  You know that one payment that is taking up a ton of your income! One area that people commonly overspend on is their car. You may need a car, but do you need a super nice BMW or a massive truck with all the accessories? NO! You don’t. Who cares what kind of car you drive as long as it is safe and can get you from A to B.

    Seriously, is the kind of car you drive that important? Why? Just for kicks, take that car payment amount and put it into your debt snowball calculator and see how fast you can dump your debt and be free!

Disclosure: Dave Ramsey isn’t known for his soft touch people skills. He’s blunt and calls it as he sees it. You may not agree with it, and you may not like it, but math is math.

Are some of these mistakes close but not quite the right match to what you’re experiencing? Check out this post on budgeting mistakes that can hold you back.

6 Tips on how to not quit on budgeting

  1. Take a break.  Yup. Put the calculator down and walk away. Don’t let your emotions control your future. Just take a break, be it an hour, a day, or even a few days. I caution you not to go longer, as you don’t want to give up altogether. That’s the one thing you don’t want to do!

    I do this with things, I tell myself that I am going to let something percolate (like when you make coffee). Or simmer, if you like to cook. I’m giving myself time to let the info sink in and decide how I feel about it and how I feel about my options. Or maybe, I just need to get used to an idea and accept it.

  2. Run it out!  Yup, get some exercise. Not only will your body thank you, but it will help clear your mind and get some nervous energy out too! It’s kinda funny, but I always get my best ideas when I’m out on a run. I will stop mid-run and take an audio note of my idea (as I’m afraid I’ll forget it by the time I get home). 

    If running isn’t your thing, do anything that gets your heart rate up! Or do some restorative yoga, or a peaceful hike in the woods.

  3. Talk to someone.  Take heart in community; there are so many people to offer you support; you just need to find the right places to go. Be it a friend or a stranger. Sometimes strangers are great as they are unbiased to our situation and can give a different perspective on your situation. Money minded Facebook groups are great for this! Just use the search function, you may even be able to find a local group to join at their next meetup.

    Word of caution, internet trolls are everywhere; you need to see them for what they are and don’t let it get to you if someone gets a little nasty. Yes, that easier said than done. Usually, those people will get kicked out of groups fast; karma is a bitch huh! So try and join 3-5 groups, you’ll soon know the few that support you the best!

  4. Remember your why.  What is your primary driver for wanting to make a change in your financial life? Are you doing just for the hell of it? Or is it something that really compels you? Your reason for change needs to be strong enough to keep you going when times are tough! Like, I mean really strong!  I wrote my personal story of what keeps me going right here in finding your financial why.  

  5. Try it a different/new way.  Maybe you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Get back in the saddle by looking for a new budgeting method, or new learning method (podcasts, books, Facebook groups, YouTube, digital apps, basic spreadsheets, pen & paper, etc), or find a new teacher. Whatever it is, go about it in a different way to shake up your brain waves!

  6. Go have fun!  Now, I don’t mean go on a shopping binge! That would totally be self-sabotage! You need to have some activities lined up that you enjoy that doesn’t bust the bank. A small investment is fine. Things like…
    • hiking
    • painting
    • puzzles
    • happy hour with a friend (just don’t get tipsy and order one of everything! Go inside with $20 and that’s it)
    • sitting by the pool relaxing and reading
    • journaling
    • sight-seeing in your home town
    • driving adventure (backroads country driving is fun!)

Be sure to check out your local library as some places have cultural passes. Which can include free admission to local museums, activity places, vast gardens, and other places that are perfect for decompressing!

At the end of the day

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post, it’s to not give up and quit trying to budget! Yes, budgeting can be overwhelming, hard, confusing, frustrating, and maddening! So many of us have felt this way along our journey. Maybe it’s a right of passage to get so mad that you through your calculator, and immediately cry because you realize it was your phone!  (true story).

Yet, remember that budgeting will allow you to reach your dreams and live your life the way you want to live it! Is that worth fighting for? I think so, and I hope you do too!

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What is your main reason why you won’t quit budgeting? I want to know so I can cheer you on!