The month is more than half way over and I’m feeling great about the progress I’ve made. While I normally do in-my-head budgeting I decided to switch things up and instead create a written budget this month.
I’ve also once again tracked my expenses down to the penny. Although this time around has been so much easier than the last.
Here are the things that have helped me to stick my written budget this month.
Set a Realistic Budget From The Beginning
Sometimes you can get a little overly ambitious, thinking you’re going to spend a third of what you normally do. I’ve done it. I’m sure you have, too.
That’s usually the biggest culprit to budgeting failures.
You need to be realistic from the get-go. If you know you’re going to spend $3,000 on basic living expenses this month don’t budget $2,000.
You can definitely make your budget a challenge but it needs to be realistic.
Determine What System Works Best for You
The last time I tracked my expenses for an entire month I used an Excel spreadsheet. It was a total pain. There were some evenings where the last thing I wanted to do was open up my computer. So, this time I decided to make a change.
I printed out several expense tracking sheets along with a budget sheet and sat them on my kitchen table. Since I live in a small home and am constantly in the kitchen, they’re pretty hard to miss. I mean, how I can I not fill out these sheets that are staring right at me?
Determine what system works for you and stick with it. Don’t try to force yourself to do something that doesn’t come naturally.
Create a Habit of Reviewing Your Spending
Since my expense tracker and budget sheets are on my kitchen table I look at them literally every day. This entire month I have known how good (or bad) I am doing when it comes to spending.
While you don’t necessarily have to review your finances every day you should do it at least once per week. You’ll then know what sort of changes you need to make to stay on track.
Post Your Goals in a Conspicuous Place
When you just don’t feel like properly managing your money, review your goals. This has been instrumental for me!
Since I have a big goal this year of saving money for a down payment on a home I’m constantly thinking – do I want to spend $20 for pizza or do I want to save $20 for a house? And when I’m really feeling tempted to spend money I shouldn’t be I check the local real estate listings for an added bit of motivation!
Realize It’s All About Trade-Offs
If you created a budget you did it for a reason. That could be to pay down debt, invest more, or save for a large purchase. Think of the reason behind the budget.
If you have a strong enough goal then making those little trade-offs like not buying new clothes, skipping drinks at the bar, and warding off impulse purchases will become easy.
What tips do you have for sticking to a budget?