Making a budget is one thing; sticking to it is what’s going to help you achieve your financial goals. Here are some tips on how to stick to a budget.
Creating a Budget
A budget can help your finances because it provides a visual of your expenses vs income to ensure you have enough money coming in to cover what is going out each month. Start your budget with a list of all of your expenses and all of your income each month. Don’t forget to leave room for savings if your emergency fund is not started or is incomplete. If you don’t know where to start with your budget, our template may be able to help you.
Don’t forget to include expenses that may not come monthly such as vacations or car maintenance. If you account for these expenses now, it may not be as big of a hit to your wallet when they do come up.
For bills that may change every month, leave enough room for the highest realistic amount. These bills provide good opportunities to trim your budget when you review to make sure your income covers all of your expenses.
Be Realistic when Budgeting Money
A budget is a good first step to financial stability but you need to set realistic goals when it comes to cutting back on or cutting out line items. Be honest with yourself when budgeting money and you may be more likely to stick to your budget.
This means don’t cut your budget back to the bare minimum, at least at first. It may help you stick to your budget if you cut back on expenses rather than eliminating them. Cutting back on essential and non-essential expenses may provide enough expendable income in your budget to get your finances under control.
It may also be helpful to chip away at balancing your budget a little at a time by cutting back on one or more line-items bit by bit each month. For example, if your grocery bill is about $300 each month and you want to decrease it to $200, start your grocery budget at $275. The next month, or whenever you’re comfortable, decrease your grocery budget to $250 and so on. If you do a little bit at a time, your goals will seem more manageable, and you may be more successful at sticking to your budget.
Sticking to Your Budget
Even with a realistic approach, it may take work to stick to a budget. Be conscious of your progress with these tips:
- Keep your budget close and accessible, whether you use pen and paper or prefer to use a money managing app to track your budget. Out of sight often means out of mind so make sure you look at your budget frequently to keep track of where you are.
- Let your friends and family hold you accountable by sharing your budgeting goals with them. If you tell the people around you the parameters of your budget, they may be able to help you stick to your budget by keeping you honest by reminding you of your budgeting goals when you’re out and about.
- It’s okay to leave in some of the fun expenses, as long as your income can cover them. If your debt is out of control, you may need to cut back on some of your fun time activities but that’s only temporary. Including room for things you enjoy may also help you stick to your budget.
- You should also keep your budget flexible as your expenses may change month-to-month. A savings account or emergency fund can help cover the unexpected, but you should also be prepared for months that may have extra expenses such as around the holidays.