Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Tips for Sticking to Your Budget

You may have read it over and over again – a budget is a good thing – but that doesn’t make the process of budgeting any easier. Sticking to a budget can be as difficult as sticking to a diet. Dieting is often difficult because you have to retrain yourself to eat healthy and stay away from unhealthy foods. Part of you still wants those unhealthy foods because it’s what you’re used to; it’s what you’re comfortable with.

Living according to a budget can certainly feel uncomfortable. You have to second-guess purchases, resist impulse buys, and consult your budget frequently to be sure you’re making the right decisions. It may not feel good, but it’s for a good cause. Here are some tips for sticking to your budget.

Think “plan” not “budget.” People dislike budgeting so much that even the word budgeting is cringe-worthy. So instead of associating your new financial habits with a budget, consider it a plan. Each month, you’ll create plan detailing how you’ll spending your money. Then throughout the month, you’ll spend according to that plan. It sounds so much more empowering.

Learn your budget. Think about how much time you’d lose on a road trip if you have to constantly stop and look at the map to see where you are and where you need to go next. If you’ve memorized the route, you can drive straight through. The more familiar you are with your budget, the easier your spending decisions will be. But, if you’re lost, stopping to look at the map is far better than driving around in the wilderness for hours or days. Try to memorize your budget, but refer back to it whenever you need to.

Carry your budget/plan with you. Make a few copies of your budget and put them in your purse, wallet, or briefcase. You can also put it on a USB drive or store it on Google Docs, Evernote, or another internet accessible site. Save it to your phone. There’s no reason to fret over spending decisions because you’ve left your budget at home. Take it with you so your decisions will be less stressful.

Remember why you’re doing this. You probably didn’t wake up one morning and just decide to start budgeting. There’s a reason you’re budgeting – to make better use of your money. Maybe it’s to pay off debt, to save up to start a business, or maybe it’s just to stop throwing away so much money. People have a variety and combination of reasons for budgeting. When you’re tempted to quit, recall what inspired you to start budgeting in the first place.

Build in some fun. Budgeting is work. It requires mental work. Sticking to your budget can be a drain on your willpower. Make sure you recognize your hard work, even if it’s just mentally acknowledging that you’ve stuck to your budget so far this month. Give yourself a small reward, like $5 to $10 if you can afford it for each month you follow to your budget or reduce your spending. When you can associate your budget with something positive, you’ll feel more motivated to stick with it.

It can take two or three months to get used to budgeting, so don’t give up quickly. Stay motivated and remember that budgeting is a positive thing. Do it right and you’ll see great results.
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Thursday, 25 April 2024

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