How to Stick to a Budget Mentally

If you’re a person who loves to organize, it can be fun to put together a new budgeting plan.

You’re very excited about how you ‘re going to stick to a budget for the first time. You start figuring out all your expenses and putting them into a neat list.

Once you’re done you have this cool looking thing, that you made all by yourself. You feel accomplished and like you’re really trying to better your life.

After a week or two, you realize that this whole budgeting thing is a lot harder than you expected. You’re actually $50 over budget already.

I understand your pain.

It’s a constant battle, but it does get easier over time. With any new habit or lifestyle change, you have to make conscious decisions on what to do. What’s helpful and what’s slowing you down. Sometimes this means not doing things you really want to do. Other times it means doing things you don’t want to do.

Today we’re going to talk about a few mental obstacles people may face when sticking to a new budget. Also, how to deal with those feelings and overcome them.

Instant Gratification and how to stick to a budget

You’re out at the mall and see a new pair of pants or lip gloss at Sephora. A sales associate comes up to you and says
“everyone loves this item, it’s actually on sale for today only.”
You stand there thinking,
“Well, it is on sale. I’ll have to pay more for it later if I don’t get it now.”


Don’t let those self-sabotaging thoughts lead you down a spending spiral. You already have plenty of pants and 2 other lip glosses in that same shade. You can make it without.

Some sales associates are great their job and know to create a sense of urgency to make a sale. It may only be on sale for today. But it’ll be on sale at another point as well.

Don’t buy anything you haven’t already planned on buying. Also, make sure it fits within your monthly budget.

Keeping up with the Joneses

We all know how this one goes. We see someone with something nice or a status symbol and we have to have it too. No, you don’t. Most of the time you weren’t even thinking about that item before you saw someone else with it.

This can even apply to social media.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been on Youtube or Instagram and saw someone with something and then I wanted it. I don’t know those people, I know they’re trying to get me to buy something, but now I’m looking on Amazon or trying to figure out what time the mall closes.

Sometimes you have to remove yourself from those situations. We live in a time of “lifestyle branding” and everything you see is trying to get you to want something. If it betters your life, then, by all means, go for it. But if it’s just more “stuff” to clutter your life, you need to learn to recognize it. Again remove yourself from the situation, and look around at the stuff you already have.

Having too high expectations for yourself

This may be a hard topic to discuss, and some people may not agree with me. But sometimes we have too high expectations for ourselves! Now I’m not saying let yourself go, or throw all your morals and goals to the wind, but figure out what’s more important.

Do you need to go to the salon so often, or can you learn to do some of those styles yourself? Perhaps you can go for some lower maintenance styles. Do you have to drink a protein smoothie every day, along with pre-workout? These types of things can add up to be very expensive. If you’ve included them in your budget, then you’re stretching yourself thin in other places.

Be honest about what’s a need and what’s a want.

Learning to Say “No” and mean it

One of the most used excuses that I hear people use about why they can’t stick to their budget is they can’t go out with friends. When you put it like that, it does seem sad and lonely. But you don’t have to go out to have fun!

You and your friends can put some cash together and buy the materials to make your own drinks. I just did the math on the daiquiri I’m drinking while writing this and per drink, it’s costing me less than $1.50. Compare that to the $8+ drinks you’ll pay for at bars or restaurants! That’s even cheaper than $2 margarita night, and my drink is twice the size and not watered down.

The point is, you and your friends can have a get-together and have fun at your own place for a fraction of the cost. Without feeling like you’re missing out on something.

If your friends aren’t okay with having a fun night in, then understand their decision and do your own thing. Don’t sit around feeling remorseful, do something free and fun at home.

The “I Want” Mentality

The “I want” mentality is spending your money before you get it. Majority of the time on things you don’t need. I used to deal with this in the past as I talked about in my financial story. You realize you have some cash on the way, and it already starts to burn a hole in your pocket. You see something on tv. You want it. You see something on YouTube. You want it. You see something outside. You want it. You don’t really have a good reason to want or need all those things, but you just do.

This is difficult to deal with and my best advice is to go on a spending freeze for a month or more.

A spending freeze means to only pay for your bills and necessities. At no time do you buy any of those “I wants”? So even if you want Chic-fil-A, don’t buy it. Go eat something already in the kitchen. Even if you see something cute for $5 in the clearance section at Target, don’t buy it.

You’re basically going cold turkey with your spending. You have to learn to stop and gain some impulse control. The best way I’ve seen to fix anything that requires that kind of control is to stop it completely.

Dealing with boredom and finding alternatives

Sometimes you just want to get out and do something. If you don’t think this out the right way, you’ll most likely end up somewhere that will cost you money.

That’s why I put together a list of 20 fun free things to do. These require no money and will keep you busy for hours.

It’s not forever

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.

Like Dave Ramsey says,

It’s important to remember that this way of living doesn’t have to be forever. In time you will pay off all your debts, save a sizable nest egg and have some financial security and freedom. You have to remember your reason for going through this learning and growing stage. After you start to see some results things will become easier to stick to.