5 Budget Fixes for Common Problems

couple going over finances
Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

When you are starting to budget or if you have been budgeting for years, you may run into some issues that make budgeting hard. There are some problems that are more common than and others, and it is important to have workarounds that make budgeting easier rather than more difficult. It takes a lot of work to make your budget work. If you are struggling with one of these specific problems, you can use one of these budget fixes to help you solve the problem.

Running Out of Money on the First of the Month

If you are paid once a month, you may experience times of feast and famine financially. When your bills are due at the beginning of the month, you may see the majority of your money disappear in the first week or two and then struggle to find money to cover groceries by the end of the month.It can be frustrating to constantly be waiting on your next paycheck to make ends meet.

Budget Fix

  • The budget fix for this issue is to divide your month into weeks and set aside the money for the remaining weeks of the month into a savings account.
  • Transfer the money from your savings account into your checking account each week. This will help you stop spending when you have reached your quota for the week.
  • The other option you can do is to do the same thing using the envelope system and use cash for your weekly expenses.

Cash Flow Issues

Another common budget problem is when you are experiencing cash flow issues.

You make enough to cover your expenses throughout the month, but the majority of the bills are due at the beginning, and you get paid weekly or twice a month. You may feel the pinch at the beginning of the month, and really struggle to cover your bills, while you have plenty of money the second half of the month.

Budget Fix

  • The way to solve this problem is to put money aside in the second half of the month to help you cover expenses at the beginning of the month.
  • You could save half of your mortgage payment and other bills, so that you have the rest of your paycheck to cover food and entertainment costs. A little planning can help you handle this budgeting issue.
  • You can contact your creditors and utility providers and see if they are willing to change the due date on the bills. Some companies might be willing to work with you to make the process easier for you. 

Communication Issues

You may find that you are great at budgeting by yourself, but when you are in a relationship or married, it is an entirely different issue. Communication is key when you are budgeting as a couple. If you do not communicate, you will not know how much money is left in each category and how much you have left to spend. You may also end up fighting about money all of the time.

Budget Fix

  • The first budget fix is to meet to review the budget on a regular basis. It may need to be every night at first or once a week.
  • The other solution is to find a budgeting app that you can both update as you spend money. If you are both entering your purchases as they happen, you can easily track what is left in the account as it happens. This can prevent overspending and is a fairly simple solution.
  • Once you have started budgeting well, you can decrease the meetings to once a week. It helps to acknowledge that no one is perfect and to move forward without dwelling on the minor mistakes and issues.

Problem Categories

Everyone has problem categories where the spending is nearly always more than you expected it to be. You may have issues with entertainment costs, clothing costs or food costs. Often a problem category is related to something that you love doing or something that you hate doing. Another problem may be that you have spending issues in a particular category. Once you identify this you can begin to find a solution.

Budget Fix

  • The budget fix for this problem is to change the way that you handle it. Switching to cash only for the category can work, especially if you are shopping in person at a store. However, if it is an online purchase, this will not work.
  • You can use a reward system where if you limit spending in the category, you get extra money at the end of the month to spend on something you love. If you are overspending on eating out, because you hate to cook, you can reward yourself with dinner out at a nice restaurant if you stick to the budget and cook. You should also find ways to make it easier to make dinner or tackle other tasks you do not like.
  • Consider cutting back on other categories to increase your spending in areas where you consistently spend more than you should. It may mean that your priorities need to shift. 
  • Find ways that you can make sticking to your limits easier. For example if you are spending too much on take out because you are too tired to cook during the week, consider cooking over the weekend for the entire week. Pay for a service that does the grocery shopping for you to help save money and make cooking at home easier. 

Expenses Exceed Income

You may not realize how big this problem actually is until you sit down to tackle your budget the first time. You may just need to cut back on your spending, but you may also realize that you have an actual income problem where you do not make enough to cover your basic bills. It is important to find a permanent solution to this problem.

Budget Fix

  • The first step to fixing this problem is to cut all unnecessary spending, at least temporarily. This will give you a chance to get a handle on the problem. Remember that necessary spending includes shelter, utilities (not counting paying for television), food and transportation.
  • After you have done that, you can begin to add back in your other categories. You will also need to look for a solution to raise your income. This may mean something temporary like getting a part time job while you clean up debt, or going back to school so that you can earn more money. 
  • Look for ways to increase the amount you are earning. This may need to be a permanent fix and you will need to look for ways to move into a better job by setting clear career goals and possibly going back to school
  • You may only need to increase your income temporarily until you pay down your credit card debt and can better manage your financial situation.