And still feel good about your money.

Budgets are a lot like reading tarot cards. They’re great for understanding your own state of mind, but not-so-great for getting the clearest of reads on the future.

It makes sense. We can’t always predict the future, but we can plan for it. So, how to budget? The key is to be realistic. And sometimes that means accepting this: there are people who know how to stick to a budget. And then there are the rest of us.

With that in mind, here are 5 reasons you can totally fail your budget, but still feel good about money. It's how budgeting works.

It's just a guideline

Pretend it’s a beautiful long weekend and you’re heading out of town for a countryside road trip. You punch directions into Google Maps, but what if some roadside stand selling delicious dogs catches your eye?

Think of budgets a little like that. You have your target for the month (i.e. $50 or less on your ASOS shopping habit) but it’s not like some lightning bolt’s gonna hit you if you end up going over. Go get those hot dogs. Go get that linen jumpsuit (it has POCKETS).


But it’s still kind of a plan

Yeah, like that map. Budgets help you set a target, whether it’s an overall one or just a target for a specific category.

It feels good to have a plan, right? Kind of like… you’re an adult? Take what you can get, is what we always say, and if that means you’re setting your coffee budget to “$2.50 or less, you ‘spresso-head” then so be it.

And it helps you look back

Plans help you look forward, but how do you make the best plan? By looking back. Whenever you make a budget, it’s a chance for you to see how you’ve been doing. Successes, failures, and all.

Get into the habit of making a budget, and you’ll start to pay close attention to your spending. It won’t be so much about missing an overall target (‘cause LIFE). Instead, you’ll find yourself celebrating small wins. Like spending $1 less than you thought you would on coffee. (What? Miracles happen.)


Failure means nothing, really

So what, you missed your budget amount? There’s no shame in that. You are human after all.

It sucks to feel like you lack self-control but, listen, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Once you start a budget, keeping an eye on spending can become second nature. Little by little, you will conquer this whole money thing. And that means that, if you fail one week, it will be okay. Why?

There’s always next time

We all have the capacity to change. Repeat after me: we all have the capacity to change.

If there’s anything that 2020 has taught us, it’s that life can turn on a dime. The world gives us so many chances to be better — not just for the planet, but for ourselves.

Start a budget and it will be the first of several tiny steps on your journey to becoming a better person. Part of that journey is understanding failure as part of the process. It will happen but, the sooner you can dust yourself and go at it again, the stronger (and better at money) you’ll be.

Cleo’s new weekly budget is all that and more: manage your spending money (no bills!) by custom categories, get regular updates on how you’re doing, and start fresh every Monday. You got this.