We all know why a budget is important. Budget living is a real thing that needs to be mastered by all! A budget shows us what money we have coming in and what money we have going out. It also gets into the nitty gritty of where our money goes. Being able to make changes to your current budget will allow you to save more and spend less. Easier said than done right? Sticking to your budget doesn’t have to be hard!
The CGS Team has done some research to come up with some of the best tips for actually sticking to your budget. First thing first, you actually need a budget! Whether you create your own budget or you get a CGS Personalized Budget Plan, you will need to have your income and expenses on paper. Once you have that, the next step is sticking to your budget!
Understand the Needs vs. Wants
When it comes to sticking to a budget, you have to take a really hard look at what is necessary and what is just a want. You may be thinking “…my new pair of shoes each month is a necessity” or “…unlimited texting is a must-have”, and it’s this mindset that stops you from saving as much as you can. There should be no room in your budget for a monthly pair of shoes.
Also, if you aren’t making the most of your unlimited texting, then drop down to the next plan. You can save a lot of money by prioritizing your needs versus your wants. You don’t have to do without your wants, you simply have to be realistic. When your budget allows for it, give yourself some extra cash to get those wants. Understanding needs and wants is huge for budget living. Check out the CGS Podcast Episode #63: How to Financially Prioritize Needs and Wants for more details!
Review Your Spending
Whether you have set yourself up on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly budget, you need to give it a chance to work! The best way to do that is to review your spending to make sure you are staying within the walls of your budget. Start with a weekly review. Set a specific time and day to go over your spending from the previous week.
We recommend a Sunday afternoon, with a glass of wine and a few candles. Loosen up a bit! Budgeting and financials doesn’t always have to be so serious! Write down everything you spent during the week or glance over your receipts. Make sure that you are staying within your allotted amount for each category. It’s a budget living must! Also, don’t forget to review your credit card activity as well to make sure there were no extra expenditures you didn’t account for. Read 5 Reasons to Track Your Spending for more information.
Keep Your End Goal in Mind
So you have created your budget and you are sticking to it, but why? Are you saving for a new car or your first house? Are you allocating your income to help you knock out your debt quickly? Whatever your reasoning is for setting a budget and sticking to it, always keep it in mind. When you have an end goal in mind, it will make it that much easier for you to avoid spending on things that aren’t in your budget.
It takes discipline to know that holding off on what you think you want right now will make it that much easier for you to get what you know you want down the line. Keep a picture of that new BMW in your wallet, or set a daily alert on your phone to keep your focus on that trip to Tahiti. Never forget why you are sacrificing your spending!
Put the Extras Away
If you come into some extra cash, think overtime hours or a refund check, put that money into a savings account and don’t touch it! Your budget was created based on the income you know for a fact comes in, not on income that may only happen once. Even if you are on target with your budget, there’s no need to spend the extra cash. Having a little extra for a rainy day or an emergency will allow your future self to be stress-free thanks to your present reserves.
Impulse Purchases are a Budget’s Worst Nightmare
We’re certain you already know this, but an impulse purchase is an unplanned purchase made on a whim that is completely outside of your budget. Impulse purchases can seriously hurt your budget. Budget living means you can curb the impulses! Not only do you most likely not need the item (if you did, wouldn’t you have budgeted for it?), but now you are sacrificing other areas of your budget that actually need or could use that cash.
If you know that you can’t go to a store without buying something, then simply don’t go. If you are at the grocery store and think about sticking a few new lipsticks in your grocery cart, think back to why you are budgeting. Another good idea is to think about how much work went into making the money you are about to spend on impulse; you may reconsider after that thought! Check out 6 Ways to Curb Impulse Buys for more tips.
Resist Adding New Debt
If you are sticking to a budget that allocates a certain amount to your credit card and debt payments, then resist adding new debt. Leave your credit cards at home when you go out, pay your bills from your checking account, and use cash for any miscellaneous amounts you have budgeted for. Even if you pay your bills on your credit card (which the amounts should be budgeted for), you are compounding interest on those bills.
That compounding interest adds up and eventually increases the amount of money you owe on your credit cards. The best way to avoid this is to simply stop using credit cards or lines of credit. Every amount on your budget should be resolved through your actual income.
Related: How to Enjoy Budgeting Your Money
Make your budget work for you by actually sticking to it! Budget living is meant for us all! The tips above can help you stay focused and keep your eyes on the end prize! Do you have any tips or suggestions to share that help you keep to your budget? How do you handle it when you go over or under your budget? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below and let’s start a group discussion!