Budget fatigue is real and it can destroy your budget. Sticking to a budget takes willpower and we only have so much willpower. Slowly we deplete our willpower throughout the day as we encounter frustrating or difficult tasks.
There are lots of things that deplete our willpower, from emotional stress to something as simple as making frequent decisions.
Sticking to a budget is no different. It requires making many small decisions about whether to buy something or not. Pervasive advertising doesn’t make budgeting easy either. We’re constantly being bombarded with messages to buy more stuff or buy different stuff or buy better stuff. Advertising is designed to be emotional, to persuade you to buy something, and resisting these emotions takes a lot of willpower.
So how can you reduce budget fatigue and increase your willpower? Here are three budgeting tips to help you boost your willpower and avoid budget fatigue.
1. Don’t Make Too Many Changes At Once:
Making too many changes at once can lead to budget fatigue. It takes willpower to maintain each budget change. Stacking too many changes on top of each other will zap your willpower much faster and lead to burn out.
Try to make a few small changes each month. Give yourself at least 30 days to integrate these budget changes into your routine before adding new changes. These small changes snowball and by the end of the year you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve accomplished.
Once a change is solidly embedded into your routine it will take less and less willpower to maintain that change. This will help reduce the feeling of budget fatigue and will help you make bigger changes over the long term.
2. Avoid Spending Triggers:
It takes a lot of willpower to resist the urge to spend money. Avoid this urge by avoiding your spending triggers all together.
If you realize that you spend too much on clothing then try avoiding anything or anyplace that encourages you to look at new clothing. Stay away from the mall or your favorite shops. Spend less time reading fashion/style magazines. Try to avoid commercials on television (Go Netflix!).
Maybe you spend too much on coffee at your local coffee shop. Try walking a different way to work to avoid that coffee shop. By avoiding your spending trigger it will be easier to save that money in your budget.
This can work for any category in your budget.
Find your spending triggers, the thing that makes you want to spend money, and avoid those things as you integrate changes into your budget. Spending triggers start to have less effect once you get into the habit of spending less money so you don’t have to avoid these spending triggers forever. Just try avoiding them while you’re in a vulnerable place.
3. Reduce External Stressors:
You only have so much willpower. External stressors like work, family, physical fatigue can all zap your will power. This can lead to budget fatigue. Calm your life to help improve your ability to budget.
Making a big budget change during a stressful period at work may lead to a higher risk of failure. Trying to save more money while also going on a diet will leave you exhausted. Starting a new budget during big family holidays may lead to impulsive spending.
Try to make big budget changes during quiet periods in your life. There will be less risk of failure and this will help you solidify the change in your routine.
Founder of PlanEasy Inc.
An avid traveler, father and personal finance expert. Owen's goal is to make financial planning easy. He believes that objective and straightforward financial planning is something that every Canadian should have access to. Find out why.