When I assessed my October budget at the beginning of last month, it was quite a disappointment. Both unexpected expenses as well as anticipated but non-recurring spending sent my household off track. While occasional overspending does not spell disaster for those who are well-prepared and save regularly, it is still frustrating to try so hard and still come up short. Nonetheless, life happens and we must learn to move on. And move on I did. I moved on to a better November.
November, due to having no birthdays, trips, home repair projects or excessive dining out nights, was my best month this year. I didn’t just stay on budget, I spent $139 less than I anticipated. However, my best lesson in November had nothing to do with spending. November taught me that controlling spending can only go so far and that you must earn to move forward. While I only spent $139 less than I budgeted, I earned $1,245 more than I planned, which puts me $1,384 ahead of where I hoped to be by 11/30. This reinforces what most wealth builders and personal finance experts always say: you cannot save your way to wealth.
Saving is critical to not further find yourself into debt or dig yourself out if you’re already there. It also teaches you discipline and self-control. I am a frugal person who is a savings champ, but I have come to accept that I will not achieve financial independence if my earnings don’t far exceed my savings. Now, I am very pleased to see that I am starting to reach the point where more money is coming in than I thought and the extra I am earning is far more than what I am saving. Although I will need to replicate that consistently over many years to reach my ultimate goal, I am satisfied that I am ever closer.