5 Ways to Help You Stick to Your Budget
We all know that holding yourself accountable to your budget can sometimes be rather difficult. Although you can’t become a budgeting wizard overnight, here are some simple yet effective tips that will help you stick to your budget that sometimes haunts you.
Don’t Spend More than You Have
This may seem stupid to start with, but in reality most of us know that spending more than we have is something we struggle with presently or have in the past. When setting and sticking to a budget of any kind, it is vitally important to realistically define what you can and cannot spend. This means that when the budget is being set, you want to make positively sure that the amount you spend every month or week does not exceed what you are bringing in.
Included in this is going to be budgeting for every expense that you know you will have each month by not leaving anything out. Never undershoot what you think some of your expenses may be because that is exactly how people find themselves short on money when it comes time to buy something they actually need.
Define Your Needs and Wants, and Spend Accordingly
Again, this one may be hard because sometimes it’s easy to blur the lines between a need and a want, especially when it’s something you really, really want. If you can’t do this effectively, you can’t budget effectively. Sit down with yourself, your spouse, or whomever will be affected by your spending and clearly define what you will need to survive and what you can do without. This will include things you might find in the grocery store, the mall, and plenty of other places where it is easy to impulsively spend.
Do you really need the 60 inch TV to replace the 55 inch one that already sits in your living room? Probably not. Do you really need that gallon of moose tracks ice cream? Probably not. (maybe on an exceptionally hot day). Being able to be up front and honest with yourself about your needs and wants will go a very long way in helping you establish and stick to an effective budget.
Get Advice on Big Purchases
I will be the first to admit, sometimes it’s hard to put your ego aside and ask someone else for advice on purchasing. Nobody wants to admit they might need some guidance on what to purchase but at the end of the day if you are going to effectively hold to a budget, this is a must.
Whether it’s a spouse, your parents, or just a close friend, bounce the idea off of someone you trust on whether that big purchase you’re about to hurt your bank account with is really worth it. Who’s to say it’s not worth it, but knowing someone else agrees with you about the financial responsibility of it can certainly help you sleep a little better at night.
Stick to Cash
I get it; we have stampeded into the plastic pay era leaving dust in our tracks but by doing this we have further stampeded into the overwhelming debt era as well. Having the accessibility to overcharge when the money is not really there has become almost as bad of a habit as jaywalking to some folks (Jaywalking drives me nuts by the way). By entering a spending scenario with only cash on hand is one of the most effective ways to stick to your outlined budget.
Next time you head to the grocery store, make a list of everything you will NEED (notice I didn’t include want in there) and estimate round about how much each item will cost. Tack on about $10-$15 dollars extra in case prices have gone up or you forgot something essential, and only take this amount into the store. By this I mean leave your credit and debit cards at home! This way, the temptation will not be there to grab unnecessary items because you know you will not have the money to afford them anyway.
Make It a Paycheck Habit
Just like anything else you want to get good at, budgeting needs to be done consistently. Making a habit out of good budgeting practices is a must if you want to stay ahead on your finances. Each time that sought after paycheck pokes its pretty face up in your bank account, immediately take the time to budget what you will need and what can go into savings and other places etc. Doing this either by yourself or with a spouse or family member on a consistent basis will create a good habit that will lead to effective budgeting.
Know your money. Become conscious of what you need to be doing to maintain and stay within your outlined budget and make it happen! Granted, this process like any other takes due time, but if done the right way can produce some great benefits. Although there are many more out there, these 5 simple steps will at the very least get you started down the road to good budgeting.