Full disclosure — I have attempted the Couch to 5k running program more times than I can count. And each time, I quit midway through because it got too hard. That is, until this year. This year I finally completed the program. But what does running have to do with budgeting? Completing the Couch to 5k program was very similar to the process of getting my financial life in order. Here are the running lessons I learned and how they can help you learn to budget.
1. Go at your own pace.
The Couch to 5k program is designed to be completed in nine weeks. In the past, I would adhere to the program but quit when it got too hard. This time, I went at my own pace. I often repeated weeks until I felt confident taking the next step.
For me, budgeting was the same. I tried to follow advice from others, but it was too much, too fast. I felt overwhelmed and would give up. When I devised a budget that worked for me, success came easier. Find a budget that works for you. Don't feel pressured to have everything working perfectly in a predetermined time frame.
2. Quit expecting immediate results.
In the past, I would run for a week or two and be discouraged because I hadn't dropped 10 pounds. I wanted instant gratification. The same was true of managing my money. I would diligently save my pennies for a week or two – and when the results weren't as great as I had anticipated, I didn't see the point in continuing.
When I started tracking my small gains, it gave me the boost I needed to continue. Find a way to measure your own success. Don't get discouraged if it feels like you aren't making progress. It can take time to see big results. Seeing those small gains will help you stay on track.
3. Get an accountability partner!
Previously, I tried to complete the running program on my own. When I enlisted a friend to join me, I was more committed. The same was true with my budget. When I shared my financial goals with a friend, I was more accountable with my spending. Share your financial goals with your spouse or a trusted friend. When you share your goals with someone, you are more apt to succeed.
Finding a budget that works for you can be challenging. And the results aren't always as immediate as you hope. But much like running, if you find a budget that works for you and stick with it, the results will be more than you ever dreamed.
If you need help getting started, TTCU is here for you. We have Certified Financial Counselors at every location, ready to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today.