The first step to getting your financial life under control is to build an achievable budget. The next step is to actually use your budget and to keep yourself from over spending. The latter is usually the hard part. It is one thing to plan an efficient, balanced budget, but to stick to it, is an other.
So how can I stick to the budget I so carefully planned? The budget itself needs to be realistic. Really tight budgets will usually get you nowhere, unless you have no alternative. Assuming that you planned a realistic budget, there are ways how you can make it easier to keep on track. Here are;
11 ways how to stick to your budget:
Hide your credit cards
You don’t really have to hide them but definitely don’t use them! It is so,so,so easy to swipe your card. So much so that, unless you have an insane sense of will power or budgeting ability, you will overspend without even realising. Go to an ATM and get exactly the amount you budgeted for the day. This way you will always know exactly what you can and can not afford, reducing your chances of splurging.
The lower the amount of costs, the more spare money you have. So always be on the look out for sales, discounts and coupons. If you are big on online shopping, ou should check out 10 ways to save money when shopping online.
Lists, lists, lists
Lists are the best tool a budgeter has. When you write down and see an actual list, it lets you envision and organise your tasks. Not only do lists help you avoid buying unnecessary items, but they also help you save time. These 9 reasons explain exactly why I love lists so much.
Pack a lunch
Not just lunch. If you truly want to stick to your food budget, you need to get cookin. Ordering in or eating out can get really expensive when you do it on the regular. Grab a calculator and do an estimate right now, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. (Bonus tip: If you are packing lunches, be sure to have reusable containers on hand)
Waste is not a budgeter’s friend. You pay full price, so why should you use only half? Every part of every object can be reused (if not, you should always recycle!). There are ways to eliminate food waste, including mouth-watering leftover recipes. Managing to successfully reduce waste, also means less spending!
Keep the receipts
Receipts are the primary way of tracking your expenditure. Keep your receipts and compare your actual spending with your budget. This way you can know your budget’s strengths and weaknesses and how to improve. A great way to keep track of your receipts is to use simple spreadsheets like Google spreadsheets or, my personal favourite, Microsoft Excel (Excel comes as part of the Microsoft office pack. All items in the pack are very useful in office/day-to-day life). Also, receipts are constant reminders that you are actually spending money.
Bring a friend with you
Summer is fast approaching and you might be thinking about a needed wardrobe change. When going shopping, you should really take someone with you. Preferably it should be someone who understands your budgeting needs and that will be the voice in your ear when they think you’re going overboard.
Sleep on it
A new phone, a new laptop or TV, anything which makes you want to grab your keys and go to the store that very second, is/will probably be a mistake. Don’t rush into your purchases. Always remember that whatever is new and exciting now, will be old and boring next month. Take the day (and night) to sleep on it before you head out to buy it. If you wake up still wanting the item, good, now you can buy it without the fear of regret. If not, even better.
Have a safety net in your budget
What I mean by a safety net, is a percentage of your budget dedicated to emergencies or unforeseeable expenses. You can not possibly predict each and every cost and include it in your budget. So having a small amount dedicated to these costs is ideal (so that you won’t have to rip into your other budget items). I explain this further in how to plan an achievable budget.
Use budgeting apps
Budgeting apps are great to keep track of your spending. They help you know how much you spent and how much you have left. You can’t always keep all your lists handy so apps like Goodbudget or Fudget are essential when you’re on the move. When choosing your budgeting app, be sure to look for free ones, otherwise it just defeats the purpose.
Yep. I said treat yourself. Living a life of constant restraint is no fun. In order to stick to your budget and keep doing it for a long period of time you NEED to make room for your needs. Otherwise you will ultimately break down into a shopping spree (….been there). When listing your expenses, add a small amount for something you like. This will definitely help you achieve long-term results. (Tip: If like me, you like shopping, I suggest you consider buying from sites budget fashion sites like Misguided or Next. High end brands are just not worth it).
Sticking to your budget is not the easiest thing ever, but with the help of these few tricks it can definitely be achieved. Remember: Budgeting is not a sprint, it’s a lifestyle.
Do you have any more tricks up your sleeve? Or do you use any of the above? Share with us in the comments!