Sticking to a tight budget can be difficult. You have to do all the grunt work associated with setting one up. You have to organize all your information and have your spreadsheets and accounting software up and ready to go. Applying your plan of action can take a lot of will power that, let’s face it, we would rather not bother. The truth is, it isn’t going to take care of itself and if you are trying to work towards something, like a vacation, you have to work at it to make it happen. How do you keep your budget on track avoid pushing it to the back of your mind?
Below I have compiled some tips to help you reach your budget goals. I hope they help!
- Start out small and build on that. If you set your goals too high to begin with, you will find that you don’t stick to any of them and your budget will fail. Start with cutting back on eating lunches outside home during the week. Give yourself one day a week to be able to go out to lunch with a friend from work and for the other days, pack a lunch. This is a good start. If you are trying to eliminate eating out altogether, go easy on yourself. Pick one night that you and your family can enjoy a night out at a restaurant but make sure you cook meals at home for the rest of the week. By setting limits but allowing some luxury, you will find it easier to stay within your budget.
- Make sure to leave some room for out of the ordinary expenses. Take into account expenses that occur yearly too. These don’t happen all the time, but need to be factored in to your budget or you will be quite off when these happen. Sit down and make a list of all of the “maybe” expenses. Factor all into your budget. If they don’t all happen during the year, then that is more money set aside that you have saved.
- List your budget down and make your budget permanent. It is easy to go off track if it is not written down. Don’t leave it all to memory. With all the frustrations and comings and goings of our daily lives, things get overlooked. Don’t leave it to chance. Take action in writing.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Not meeting your budget once in a while is a given event. Getting back on track is the key. If you give up completely, all your hard work will go right down the drain and then you will be back at starting point without a goal. It is going to take work to get what you want. You know the saying: “anything worth wanting, you must work for”. This is true when setting your budget. If you have a bad month, take it in stride and move on to the next month. Look into the future and move on.
- Your budget is a work in process. Some adjustments may need to be made here and there. This is normal. When you notice that you can save more in an area, apply it to your budget. If you notice that one area seems to take up more than another, modify it to so it can be corrected. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged and give up. Modifications will help you to meet your goals. Work with your budget, not against it.
- Make an appointment once a month to sit down and look over your budget. Keep this appointment each and every month. This will show you how close you are to being on budget or where modifications need to be made. Just make sure you don’t modify things too much to include frivolities. The modification should be for unforeseen expenses. If you do not look over your budget once a month, you might as well not have one. If you don’t take the time to look over it, you won’t take the time to stick to it either.
- Set goals that are realistic. Don’t expect to tackle a credit card that you owe $20,000 overnight. It would not be realistic to say you will have it paid off in a couple of years. That would be way too hard to do. If you set goals out of reach, you are setting yourself up for extreme disappointment and failure. You have to be realistic and work at a pace that is right for you. If you could pay off $20,000 in a couple of years, you wouldn’t need a budget. You would have plenty of money to where you wouldn’t owe that amount to begin with.
- Treat yourself to a reward once in a while. This way you can look forward to staying on budget. Don’t reward yourself with anything extravagant as this would break your budget. Rewards will make you feel you have done a good job and help you see what you have accomplished. This is important if you are going to stick to your budget.
- Make sure you leave room for your investments. Your retirement is important and you must plan for it. Don’t put this on the back burner and think you have plenty of time for it once you get everything else taken care of. The time to plan is now and you must do this above all else. Make sure you leave the room for your retirement fund. Don’t pull the strings too tightly here. You have to have the money to live on once you retire. A budget now with no retirement account will not do you any good in the long run. You can make both of these work.
- Look at your budget as a happy thing. Think of what you will have at the end. Don’t keep thinking of all the restrictions you have put upon yourself and your finances. Think of the benefits. You must think positively throughout this process. If you do not think this way, you up your chances for failure. Just like a lot of people fail on a diet because they restrict themselves too much, this too can happen on a budget.
Following the above mentioned tips can help you stay on track and to reach the success you are after. Just remember, if you have a bad month, don’t give up. Be positive and tell yourself that next month will be better. Good luck and happy budgeting!
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