Budget Management: How to Stick to Your Budget

how to stick to your budget

Now that you’ve determined which budget might work, you have to learn how to stick to it. Using the budget and being steady is the only way it will work. Unfortunately, consistency is the hardest part of budgeting. The number of families with a budget has declined since last year. Here are a few ways to maintain the habit and make budgeting easier.

Be Realistic

When budgeting, make sure you use actual numbers and your final number is zero or greater. Don’t budget more than you earn or less than you spend. Also, don’t estimate your income or your expenses. If you are operating in the negative, you know you need to lower your expenses, increase your income, or both. The easiest way to adjust is to decrease your variable expenses such as food, gas, and utilities as much as possible.

Make sure you unplug devices when not in use. Cook and pack your lunch more often. Carpool or take public transportation instead of driving. Also, review your accounts for subscriptions that may be automatically renewing that you no longer use or can live without.

Set up Autopay

Most vendors and banks offer autopay or bill-pay options. Open a free checking account solely for bills that will cover the entire month’s worth of expenses, plus a buffer, for payments to draft from. To determine your cushion amount, look at how much you can afford to set aside and how much your bills vary from month to month. Additionally, ensure you account for any annual or semi-annual expenses such as taxes, insurance,  or subscriptions.

Set up your direct deposit or automatic transfers to fund the account before you have a chance to spend it. This can be particularly helpful if you’re building up your financial discipline. You can pay your bills on time and in full because the money is set aside already.

stick to your budget

Reward Yourself

A small sacrifice today, can work toward a treat later. Ensure your priorities are covered first, such as bills, savings, and investments, and then earmark funds for future entertainment. This could be date night twice a month or an automatic transfer to a travel fund. If you cut back on eating out during the week, don’t try to spend all you saved that weekend. You could allocate 25% of the money left over for recreation.  Transfer the remaining 75% to your bill account or a savings account. Make an extra debt payment or save towards one of your goals.

You can go a step further by rewarding yourself if you exceed your goals each month or quarter in addition to your entertainment funds.  For example, if you were $200 below your budget this month, then spend $50 on whatever you want at the end of the month. If you save $1000 next quarter, then use $250 for a weekend road trip. If you want your reward for saving money each month to be 50%, then go for it.

Switch Up Your Budget

If you started budgeting with the envelope method but it didn’t work, then try the 50/30/20 budget for the next month. You do not have to stick to one budgeting method, especially if you find it hard to manage or you simply don’t like the methodology. Besides, changing your budgeting routine can keep things a little bit more interesting, and dare I say, fun.

These are just a few suggestions you can use to stick to your budget. They can be tailored to any financial situation. Comment below if you’ve had any success using any of the tips above.

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