I completely agree with the pp. I think when determining a budget, it is fine to divide things up into categories (x amount for groceries, y amount for clothes). But then you need to add up all your individual budgets into one yearly budget, and divide that by twelve. Know your bills, treat your savings like another bill, and everything else is discretionary spending. That way, if you want to go over your shoe budget, you need to cut that amount elsewhere. If you want to spend $120 on a new pair of boots, and you have allotted $16 for your shoes this month, you need to find $104 elsewhere in your budget to afford that. Cut out your Starbucks drinks for 26 days (if you spend $4 per day). Or cancel your next two mani/pedis. Give up a couple of date nights. You want those shoes, you’ll have to give up something else and it’s as simple as that. Keeping all your categories so separate is tempting to do what you are already trying to do- use your monthly budget like credit. You want to spend 7-9 months of your shoe budget in advance. That’s not gonna work.
You gave yourself $200 for the entire year and you are already about to spend two thirds to three quarters of your YEARLY budget in the FIRST MONTH! This isn’t realistic. Here’s what will probably end up happening- you find a pair of boots for $120. In a few months, you see a really cute pair of shoes for a super discounted price, you spend $20 on them. No worries, you figure you still have $60 left and you don’t expect to need new shoes for the remaining 8-9 months. But then you get a new dress to attend a friend’s wedding, and realize you really don’t have any shoes that go with it! You find a pair that you decide will work, only $80. Sure, you’ll be over budget, but you promise yourself you’ll cut back somewhere else to make up for it. And you only have 5 more months until your next year’s budget anyway! Then your best pair of work heels breaks, or the dog chews them up, or something else. You really need work shoes. You find some practical ones for $50 more. Etc etc. By the time you finish out the year, you’ve already spent another six months worth in advance.
The thing is, you won’t classify your later shoe purchases as part of the original budget, you’ll justify them. The wedding shoes were an unfortunate overage, but what were you going to do- wear the ugly shoes that didn’t go at all? And then your heels broke, that was definitely an emergency, how could you know they would break? If you hadn’t had that wedding to go to, and your shoes stayed in good condition, you’d be fine! Or at least that’s how you feel.
Let me paint you another hypothetical picture. You come up with a yearly gift budget you think you can manage. You decide that the $700+ you spent on your boyfriend was a tad excessive, but you also love spoiling your loved ones, so you decide $500 for his birthday for next year is plenty, but still realistic- you know you can spoil him with that! You also add in gifts for all your family members, the three (!!!) weddings you know you’ll be attending next year, Christmas presents, and even a little extra because you anticipate there might be some extra unexpected events. You total it up and find that you’ve got about $2,500 for the year. That’s over $200 per month, not bad right? Some months you won’t even HAVE a wedding or birthday to contribute to. Sweet!! You start out strong- buying small gifts occasionally, but nothing crazy. You chip in $30 at the office for Jenn’s retirement gift. You feel so proud- the old you would have given at least $40!! You’re not even close to the $200 budget. You go out with co-workers for a birthday lunch and pay for her food and drinks the next month. Still only another $40 (you count your own food and drinks in your food budget, of course). You realize you forgot about Valentine’s Day when making your original budget, but it’s no big deal- you’ve only spent $80 out of $400 and there’s nothing coming up in March, so you splurge. Your boyfriend is still trying to save so you treat him to a lovely dinner out and a show. About $120 for the dinner and $200 for tickets for two people. You decide that the $120 was for food/going out and the play tickets were from your entertainment budget. You buy sexy new lingerie (using your clothing budget, of course). You go for a manicure and get your hair done as well. You get him a card and a nice watch, he loves watches and it’s only $300. Etc etc. But the thing is, you’re blowing your other budgets too. When you made your food/going out budgets, you didn’t think about taking co-workers out for lunch or paying for a Valentine’s Day date. You tell yourself these are “special occasions” and “exceptions” and you pony up the money. You didn’t think about buying lingerie when you made your clothing budget, but you want to look sexy- for him and for yourself- this is worth it, just this time. You’ll be “good” the rest of the year. You forget about the hair/manicure as well. So in your mind, you’ve been good with the gifts! It was only $80 plus the $300 watch. Right on budget! Completely ignoring the fact that you actually spent around $700 on Valentine’s-related purchases, and $100 on co-workers. In two months. Then you get invited to two weddings more than you knew about (family weddings, so you can’t turn them down, and you already committed to your friends weddings, and what are you going to do, go without a gift??). Then, in a fit of generosity, you and several close friends decide to host an engagement party for one of your mutual friends. Your cousin cries to you that she feels unloved because all her friends have other stuff going on, you feel bad and throw her a surprise bridal shower. You get her an extra nice gift! There are countless more office events, baby showers, housewarming parties, etc that you didn’t plan for but dutifully attend. Your boyfriend seems extra stressed due to work and bills, so you plan a surprise getaway vacation for the two of you. It ends up running you way more than $500 after you pay for the hotel, food, drinks, activities, transportation, tips, etc for the weekend. By the end of the year, you blew you budget out of the water. You spent more like $6,000, not the $2,500 you figured would be more than enough. And so on and so forth.
Budgeting is about setting boundaries and sticking to them. If you have a $300 budget for food, you probably can’t afford to take your sister out for drinks after her boyfriend dumps her. You have to say no- not to her, but to yourself. The things that you think are emergencies or unavoidable are really not. You can stretch the shoes you already have for another year or buy some secondhand this time. If you want to have money leftover, you have to realize you really don’t have the money to spend right now. Don’t talk yourself into purchases. You can make do! Once you realize that, it gets soooooo much easier.
So my advice is several parts-
1. Revisit your budget and be realistic- don’t think ideally what you can do, think of what you actually will do
2. Do not buy the shoes right now. Either make do, buy used ($16) or actually cut something this very month to pay for them. Don’t give yourself an “advance”- it will not work!!!
3. Stick to your final budget no matter what. Be very strict with yourself. Don’t make exceptions (unless it is an ACTUAL emergency- and even then, you should have an emergency budget for things. If you go over your emergency budget, you will have to make sacrifices elsewhere to cover the emergency expenses) Do NOT go over. I don’t care if you spent your whole food budget for the month and it’s the last day of the month, so tomorrow you have another x dollars for food- don’t order pizza, don’t go out, you spent all the money so that means you get to have cereal or a sandwich for dinner. I am sure you have something in your pantry.
4. If you know one month you will go over, save up. If you don’t buy any shoes at all for the next nine months, you can buy those boots you want right now next year, with money you have already set aside for just such a purpose.
Edited because I felt my comment was useful but a bit unclear- I did change quite a bit of how I said things but the gist is the same!