You Need To Fail

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Failure is not the worst thing that can happen. It’s not. It may sometimes feel like it, especially when something big was on the line, but failure is actually the sign of something great. Failure is a sign of something much better than just getting by. Failure is a sign of actually TRYING!

But I find that even I, myself, try to avoid failure at all costs. Why? I know that failing means I tried something, even if it wasn’t in my realm of competency. Failure helps me learn, build new skills, find my limits and push past them. But I run from it like it’s the plague instead of embracing it for the amazing teaching tool it is. What the junk?!

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

When Michelle and I first got on a budget right after getting married, it was perfectly crafted to take care of our every need forever and ever and ever. Even though I listened to Dave Ramsey tell me over and over that “your budget will take at least 3 months to settle in” and “you need to adjust your budget every month”, I was sure what I had put together was timeless.

But I learned very quickly that we weren’t living in a fantasy world. Our budget needed to change and adjust with our monthly needs, and we were going to fail over and over again as we learned our spending habits. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I felt like just giving in and letting the budget go, because failing was so frustrating. Why even try if we were going to keep blowing he budget each month in some fashion. It seemed crazy!

But then I realized that we were saving money. And paying down debt. And eating well. And only living on $14 an hour. And Michelle wouldn’t have been able to quit her job with the creepy boss unless we had that raggedy old budget. Though it seemed like a failed experiment, we were actually doing AMAZING! And after talking with several people at my work and friends, I realized we were WAY ahead in terms of managing our finances and people were starting to ask ME for advice. And it was then I realized the best advice I could give them was….

You Need To Fail

When I coached people through getting their finances in order and helping them learn how to rock a sweet budget, I told them they were going to blow the budget. Several times. And I told them this because I found that the biggest reason people stopped tracking their finances or budgeting was the “it didn’t work.” And what they meant by this was they couldn’t MAKE it work, and they felt like they were failing, so they gave up. So right up front I would tell people to just write down what they THINK would work for each category, and try to stick to it, but expect to fail.

This strategy really helped alleviate a lot of the initial frustration of trying something new, and allowed the people I helped to stick with their new budget. Knowing failure is inevitable is the only way to actually make progress!

Just Start A Freaking Budget

There are still many of you out there that won’t do it. Of the millions of excuses out there, don’t let “fear of failure” be one of them. When you get on a budget, you WILL fail, you will blow it, and you’ll probably feel like giving up at some point. But the entire reason for getting on a budget is to make your money go where you actually want it to go. So, what’s the hold up? Get started today by just copy/pasting the below list and writing down your numbers. It’s 5 minutes that could change your financial future forever!

Paycheck #1
Paycheck #2

Spending Cash
Pet Care & Food
Natural Gas
Cell Phone
Car Insurance
Student Loan

Savings Buckets
Kids’ Stuff
Car Maintenance

Comments: What’s your excuse? 🙂

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

14 thoughts on “You Need To Fail”

  1. I keep an email folder full of writing rejections. While failing is never fun, it’s a helluva lot better than inaction.

    I haven’t had much of an opportunity to fail at a budget. I’ve never created AND attempted to stick to one. My food spending would probably make me cry.

  2. I totally agree. I used to be incredibly obsessed with my budget, which meant that I took it very personally when I over spent in a category. But when I looked at all of the good things I was taking care of (saving for an emergency, paying off debt, etc.), I realized that all of my “failures” are still not so bad compared to me not having a budget at all.

  3. Fear of failure, especially when I was younger, has caused me to miss out on doing a lot of things. Sometimes it was probably good that I didn’t do a particular thing, but overall I know I would have been better off taking more chances.

  4. I’ve been trying harder to find new things to try, after living very conservatively for the first part of my adult life. Recently I negotiated a 25% raise at my work by not being afraid to fail.

  5. My former boss was big on failure. He didn’t want to see us fail per se, but he wanted us to grow and do things outside of our comfort zone. When we do this, we are bound to fail and make mistakes. That is fine – it’s a part of growing. You don’t scold your child when they are learning to walk and they fall do you? Of course not. They just failed but you encourage them to try again. We need to remind ourselves as adults that it’s OK to fail.


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