For many, our budget tends to be like our diet and exercise plan. Our intentions are good. We really do want to be better. But, for some reason, we just can’t be held to the plan we made for ourselves. Here are some of our top suggestions for sticking to your financial goals:
1. Figure out what kind of accountability you need.
You need some form of accountability in order to achieve your goals. For some, this accountability needs to be external. Meaning, someone else needs to also be aware of your goal and you need to turn to this person when you’re feeling as though this goal is unattainable. For others, internal accountability is the key to their successes. For this type of individual it’s imperative they establish a plan and a method to measure progress against their end goals.
Whether you need to call your best friend everytime you’re ready to make an Amazon purchase or need to hang your goal list on your refrigerator, figure out your plan and move forward.
2. Be realistic about your goals.
If you are currently spending 15% of your income on entertainment instead of our recommended 5% it’s unlikely you will scale back to 5% immediately (and be able to maintain this new level of spending). Try to reign in your spending by a 2-3% each month. If you cut your spending drastically you’re likely to feel deprived and unmotivated. The goal with budgeting is to build long-lasting habits not to feel deprivation and restriction.
3. Find your vice.
Most people aren’t overspending in every category of their budget. Usually they have one area which needs work. Find the area of your budget that needs the most work and focus change on that specific category. Carrying cash for this vice often equates to success. Let’s say your area of overspending is entertainment. For you specifically maybe this means you’re grabbing fast food for lunch more often than the 5% entertainment allowance. Set a weekly limit (remember to make it realistic), withdraw the cash, and when it’s gone it’s gone.
4. Use a debit card instead of a credit card.
It can be very easy to allow your monthly expenses to spiral if you’re utilizing a credit card instead of a debit card. You will find as you swipe a debit card and see an immediate decrease in your bank account you become more conscious of the purchases you make. You might remove an item or two from your online shopping cart or think twice about your afternoon snack when you feel the immediate impact of your purchases. It may be tempting to gravitate toward the world of credit card rewards and points. However, for most the rewards earned do not outweigh the overspending that follows.
5. Practice makes perfect. Review your budget often.
If you’re new to something you don’t expect to be great at it right away. Being good at budgeting is no different from any other activity. It takes practice. If you’re new to budgeting try reviewing your expenses weekly to ensure you’re on track to meet your end of the month goals. Your familiarity with your budget will be vital to your success. Remember, you won’t succeed at the end of every month. It’s going to take some time to adhere to your budget.