How To Budget When Your Expenses Are More Than Your Income
What is the point of budgeting if your expenses are more than your income?
If you are not making it each month, then why bother putting it down on paper and actually KNOWING the numbers? It will just make you depressed and won’t change anything. After all, if the math doesn’t work then the math doesn’t change just because you wrote it down. Facts are facts. If there is no money then there is no money. Right, right?!?
Money management is not about the math. It’s not about the numbers. Its about the feeling that you have towards your money. And budgeting gives you CONTROL. Being in control is empowering. Being in control gives you options. Being in control makes you the master of your money and your life and not making money the master of you.
That being said, what do you do when your expenses are more than your income?
What if the outlay is actually more than your inlay?
How does writing it down help with that? How will anything change?
Budgeting is not a magic wand that will suddenly make your paycheck larger or your expenses smaller.
But you will KNOW YOUR GAP.
What is your gap?
Take all your expenses and add them up. Take all your income streams and add them up. Subtract.
This shortfall, this number is your gap.
Once you know how big your gap is, then you have a goal. Once you have an actual, specific goal than you can make a plan to work towards that goal. You may not be able to close the whole gap but what you can do is work towards is CLOSING THE GAP. You can work towards making sure that the gap is smaller and smaller. You can make absolutely sure that the gap never widens and never gets bigger.
Closing the gap is not an easy prospect, but once you know what the gap is- you actually have a fighting chance.
Once you realize what the real numbers are then you can figure out a plan of action to make that difference smaller and smaller. You can lower expenses or raise your income. You work on getting that number closes and closer together so its as small as possible.
Paying down debt or building a nice emergency fund is usually a good start and good way to free up some money.
When you are dealing with specific numbers then specific actions have meaning. Those small, frugal actions and sacrifices that do nothing and just make you feel demoralized and poor? That $20 that you save in your purse but still seems to have to go to something? When you are working towards a specific goal than those sacrifices MEAN SOMETHING. Choosing to cook instead of getting take-out isn’t just saving $30. Its taking $30 and using it to pay down debt which will make your future more secure. Or its $30 that is going into an envelope to pay for school fees so you don’t need to put it on the credit card AGAIN and you are making sure your gap does not widen. It’s $30 that you are using for everyday expenses so your expenses aren’t $30 more than your income. Its all about the gap.
Once you know what your income and expenses are, you can work towards either lowering your expenses or increasing your income.
Lowering your expenses can seem like a thankless, difficult task with little reward if you view it as “cutting back” or “doing without” but when you re-frame it as: closing the gap then instead of feeling downtrodden, and resentful you will feel empowered, powerful and IN-CONTROL.
When you view something as a problem that needs a solution then the opportunities are endless. Solutions can be found. You can be creative and purposeful. Maybe you need a new job? Maybe you can put in extra hours? Maybe you can start a side-hustle? All of these are options that can be considered when you know how MUCH money you need to make it work. If you only need $300 more a month, you can start a tutoring business on the side (for example). If you need an extra $10,000 a month then maybe you need to move and find a better paying job- maybe by learning a trade, getting extra certification or going back to school. These are only solutions if you actually know the real problem. And the real problem is a very specific number. And numbers can be manipulated and changed.
Are you clueless when it comes to your finance? The Basic Guide to Budgeting and Personal Finance will help you get started.