Have you ever experienced budget burnout? This feeling is often related to a stressful job or parenting a newborn, but it can happen with budgeting, too. It’s usually possible to push through burnout when it comes to your job or your kids – after all, you can’t avoid those commitments. But budgeting is technically optional, so when you start feeling burned out, it’s easy to just give up.

Here at Everyday Money, we know that budget burnout is a real thing. And it’s not an indication that you have failed or that you can’t successfully stick to a budget. In fact, it’s usually a sign that the problem is with the budgeting system, not you. Read on to learn the best ways to recognize and fix budget burnout so you can get back to effectively and confidently managing your finances.

What Does Burnout Feel Like?

According to Psychology Today, burnout is “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.” We usually talk about work-related burnout, but it can also show up in other parts of life, like money management.

If you are feeling stressed or afraid every time you open up your budget, it may be an indication of burnout. Other common signs are guilty feelings about purchases and obsessive thoughts about your finances. You may start feeling like budgeting is hopeless – you’ll never be able to save enough money for your kids’ college, your first home, retirement, or a nice vacation. And if you’re like most people, when you start to feel burned out on budgeting, you just stop altogether.

Budget Burnout Isn’t Necessarily About You

It’s easy to feel guilty or ashamed if you’ve stopped budgeting because you’re burned out. There are plenty of financial planners out there who say burnout is a sign of failure. But we disagree. At Everyday Money, we know that budget burnout is usually caused by the system. It’s not the player, it’s the game.

In our experience, most people experience budget burnout when they’re using the wrong system. There are countless financial management methods, software programs, and apps, many of which are financially sound. But not every option works well for every person, so it’s easy to get stuck with a system you hate even if there isn’t anything truly wrong with it. 

If you’re using a system that doesn’t align with your values, chances are you’ll become frustrated and unmotivated quickly. Even if your budget matches your goals, it can be stressful if you hate interacting with the spreadsheet, ledger, or app that you’re using.

Don’t Give Up

If you’re feeling budget burnout, the first thing to do is to try to identify the cause. Are you stressed because you’re unemployed or underemployed? Maybe you have a good job but you’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck. Perhaps you and your partner are having trouble agreeing on financial goals so every discussion turns into an argument. Maybe it’s that you just don’t like the budget program you’re using.

Once you know the cause of your burnout, you can find a solution. The most important thing to do is to keep going, even if you feel like quitting. Think of it like your job – when you feel stressed and burned out, you don’t just quit. You schedule a vacation, and then you go back to work feeling refreshed and ready to go.

It’s easy to just throw in the towel on budgeting when you feel tired, stressed, and hopeless. But ignoring your finances isn’t going to improve them. Instead, commit to creating a budgeting plan that works for you and your partner.

It’s easy to just throw in the towel on budgeting when you feel tired, stressed, and hopeless. But ignoring your finances isn’t going to improve them. Instead, commit to creating a budgeting plan that works for you and your partner.

Find a better way

If you want to stick with your budget for years to come, you need to figure out a system that fits your unique goals, values, and preferences. A complex envelope system with 100 categories may work well for some people, but you might need something that is simpler. Your friends might all enjoy using a certain budgeting app, but you might prefer the tactile satisfaction of using a pencil and paper.

The methodology of your budgeting process is just as important as the practical side. Even if you find an app or software program that you love, it will be hard to stick with it if you don’t have the right plan for your money. It’s essential to make sure you and your partner design a budget that allocates your money in ways that support your short- and long-term financial goals.

Choosing a burnout-proof budgeting system

If you’re experiencing budget burnout, you’re not the only one. It happens to the best of us, but it’s something that can be fixed. In most cases, it happens because the system you’re using isn’t meeting your needs. 

When you’re trying to follow a budget that isn’t right for you, it leads to stress, exhaustion, and negative emotions. 

Fortunately, you can conquer budget burnout by switching to a better system. Finding the right method is especially important if you are managing your finances with a spouse or partner. If you haven’t found the right program, try BudgetingBlocks™.

Our unique system makes it easy to visualize your finances and take control in an interactive and hands-on way. It’s the tool you need to change budgeting from a stressful experience to a fun one.