Even if you have a good working budget, it’s easy to slip up on occasion. Sometimes it’s easy to get back on track, but other times might prove to be more difficult. Here are some tips to help keep you focused on making your budget work.
Spend Cash Only: This is unrealistic when talking about big-ticket items such as mortgage and car payments, but for everyday spending on items such as food and entertainment, this is very effective. When using a credit or debit card for these types of daily expenses, we sometimes aren’t aware of exactly how much we have left to spend which can easily lead to overspending. Having enough cash on hand for, say, an entire week will keep you more in tune with what you’re spending and where you’re spending it. It will also make you think twice about reaching for the card.
Note Exact Expenses: You probably have a pretty good idea of how much things cost, but it’s important to be exact when you’re budgeting. This doesn’t just include the price of groceries or gas – the best budgets also consider standard monthly expenses such as electricity and the cell phone bill. We often pay for these without even considering what we’re spending because we know we have to pay them. Monitor exactly what goes out of your account every month so you know you have a budget you can truly trust.
Cut The Waste: If you’re careful to monitor your exact spending on a regular basis, you’ll very easily start to notice areas where you can reduce your expanses on stuff you don’t need. It could be a subscription to a magazine, DVD rentals, extra money on snacks, or anything else. The most difficult part of this tip is to be firm with yourself: if it’s unnecessary, cut it out.
Have An Incentive: Even if you have the willpower to cut back on expenses and reduce your spending, it’s more difficult to stick to a budget if you never have anything to look forward to. Remember to include some room for “fun” in your budget, whether it’s short term (weekly movie night) or long term (overseas vacation). Having an incentive will make you want to stick to your budget and give you a goal.
These budgeting tips are just that: tips. They only work if you have a budget already in place. But by being as detailed as possible and implementing some or all of the tips noted above, you’ll give yourself a better chance of making your budget a success.