Budget burnout is a very real thing.

You get the motivation to make some changes, make some progress for a few months, and then burn out from the effort you’re putting in.

After a few months, you feel like spending money and don’t feel like doing anything to track or take care of your finances.

What’s worse is that all of the progress you’ve made seems to just disappear.

A Lack of Balance Creates Burnout

There are many reasons why burnout can happen, but one that I’ve found to be most prevalent in my own life is a lack of balance.

If you’re trying too hard to save for the future or pay off debt and not living your life now, the scale is tipped to one side.

As a result, you’ll feel burnt out and go crazy because you’re being so strict.

This is similar to developing healthy eating habits.

After getting my cholesterol and triglycerides under control with healthy living, I’ve been able to successfully keep off unhealthy weight for five months. This is the longest I’ve ever been able to maintain this!

Why? Because I have found a balance.

I’ve tried low carb and successfully lost weight.

It didn’t stick.

I’ve tried to eat as few calories as is healthy and I’ve successfully lost weight.

It didn’t stick.

Now, I eat a few hundred calories less than what I need while still eating a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fat.

And it’s sticking!

Work/Life Balance?

There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between how you manage your money and the work you do at your job.

For example, have you ever taken on a project at work even though you had more than enough on your plate already?

I’ve been there before.

There was a time when I was sort of a “Yes Man” at work. I would take on any project given to me. I wanted to do well and build my brand. While that worked, it also built my brand as a “Yes Man.”

Again, there was no balance.

Now, I try to take on projects that move the needle toward the future I want for me and my family and what aligns with my values.

This balances out my future goals with being a real help to the company I currently work for.

So how do you fix the burnout?

To fix burnout, balance is key.

If you’ve ever been burnt out on your budget before, what made you feel that way?

Did you take on too many strict budgeting principles?

Were you not satisfied with the progress you were making toward your goals?

It’s important to notice why burnout occurred to help prevent it in the future.

There are three things you should do to reset yourself after burnout occurs.

These will also help to prevent burning out on budgeting in the future.

1) Align Your Budget with Your Values

Running a budget that doesn’t align with who you are is never going to be sustainable. Plain and simple.

To remedy this, create a budget that will reflect who you are, what you enjoy, and what you find important.

Think about it this way. Would you rather do something you simply have to do or would you do something you want to do?

I think you and I both know the answer to that.

When you budget, if you just pick any old system and pay attention only to the numbers, it becomes something you have to do.

When you align it with your values, it becomes something you want to do.

In order to align your budget with your values, start to notice what really brings you value when you spend money on it.

For example, being such a big Disney fan, I like to spend my money on Disney related things. I set aside money specifically for this.

It aligns with my values so I don’t mind spending money on it. It also doesn’t feel like a chore saving up for a Disney World vacation instead of spending it on the latest electronic toy. It’s something I want to do.

If early retirement is something you value, you aren’t going to mind setting aside more money now rather than spending it. It’ll be something you want to do rather than have to do.

When you are doing something you want to do, you avoid the burnout because it aligns with your values.

2) Don’t View Your Budget as a Restriction

Budgeting can feel restricting, but it’s meant to be the opposite.

In its simplest form, a budget is designed to help you stop spending money on the things you don’t value and allow you to spend money on the things that you do value.

A budget is empowering.

It helps you achieve your goals, both financial and otherwise. It helps you keep your money in order so you have more freedom.

A good budget should help you be you rather than restrict you to be something you’re not.

A good budget should be relatively easy to maintain if it helps you be who you are.

Let’s head back to health town for a moment.

Have you ever wondered why diets aren’t effective for a lot of people?

Diets by their very nature are a restriction.

What is the first thing you think of when you either consider going on a diet or here that someone is on a diet?

Maybe it’s just me, but my mind automatically goes to what a person can’t eat.

And this is with something that is a GOOD thing.

Getting healthy is not only good for you but it’s a great way to directly control your finances.

Diets are good things, but they have become synonymous with what you can’t do rather than what you’re trying to achieve.

Now, think about someone who might have high cholesterol and tells you that they are trying to change their lifestyle and eating habits to control it.

Your first thought is no longer, “Wow, they can’t eat anything good.”

Your first thought becomes, “Wow! That’s awesome! I’m excited that you’re getting healthy!”

There’s a shift in mindset on how you view it. Both are controlling the way you eat and will help you get healthy.

However, the lifestyle change is no longer a restriction since the focus is on the healthy outcome.

Just like a healthy lifestyle change, a budget isn’t a restriction. It simply helps you get to somewhere better.

3) Don’t Try and Do Too Much at One Time

Think for a moment back at times that you’ve had a ton to do, either at work or at home.

How did you feel?

For me, I feel overwhelmed just looking at a to-do list that is too big.

If it seems like there is no hope of accomplishing what’s on my list, it makes it hard for me to get any of it done.

There’s just no motivation there.

The same thing can be said when you try and do too much at once with managing your money.

The more you do, the less energy you have to actually do any of it.

In order to get around this, there are several things you can do.

Automate Everything You Can

Automation in your finances takes the “work” out of it.

Automating your bills means you never have to worry about missing a payment.

Saving automatically through automated transfers means you never have to worry about figuring out how much to put aside.

Automation is so important that I consider it one of four must-haves for every budget.

Don’t Have Too Many Goals at One Time

Another thing you can do is make sure you aren’t taking on too many goals at once.

As I mentioned, I get really burnt out when I have too many things to do.

I have to break up my to-do lists into smaller lists.

I’ll have an overall list of things I want to get done, and then I’ll create a second list of things I am going to get done today.

Goal setting is a great way to manage your money intentionally but to avoid burnout, try not to set too many goals at once.

In fact, it may be best to focus on one specific goal at a time.

For example, if you’re trying to bolster your investments and pay off your debt at the same time, both areas will take a longer time to ramp up.

It’d be better to focus on one of those goals, such as paying off debt, and then investing after it’s paid off.

In this situation, what I would do is contribute to a 401K to get the maximum company match and then use the rest of my extra money to pay off debt.

This is especially good if you have high-interest debt.

It’s a much better investment to pay off a credit card charging you 18% interest than it is to invest in the stock market to get a 4% to 8% return.

Then, after the debt is paid off, I would maximize my 401K contributions.

Avoid focusing on too many things at once and you’ll avoid burning out.

Conclusion

Burnout out on your budget doesn’t help anyone. When you’re burnt out on anything, it’s hard to stay engaged.

Avoiding burnout will help you stick with managing your money well for the long haul.

If you are feeling burnt out, give these tips a go.

  • Aligning your budget with your values makes it a lot easier to maintain.
  • Not viewing your budget as a restriction will help you to stay focused on your goals and the outcome you’re trying to achieve.
  • Lastly, not doing too many things at once will help you to stay focused and not get overwhelmed by everything you want to do.

Have you ever been burnt out on budgeting? What did you do to remedy the situation?

Join the conversation in the comments!