Having a budget is great but not if you can’t stick with it.
Creating limits is one of the first steps in changing your finances for the better. Going through the process of developing a plan can be challenging but is time well spent. However, it’s useless if it is never utilized. If you already created a household budget, it’s time to follow through. These top tips will help you stick with your financial plan.
Does your budget really suit your current needs? Perhaps it is difficult for you to move forward with your plan because it is not actually right for you. In order to determine this, ask yourself the following:
- Is it too complicated? Too much content can be overseen. If you created multiple categories for your allocations, it may be too much for what you need. Try condensing if you feel overwhelmed with your objective.
- Is it too general? “Save money” does not make for a good budget plan. Stating how you are going to do so does. Include details on what you need to do to get started and where you need to make cuts. Action items are a great way to encourage you to proceed. I like to create checklists for myself to keep me on track with all of my goals, including finances.
- Do you have a backup plan? One reason your household may have a hard time following through with a budget is not having a process for when you actually do cut back on purchases. If you decided to take cable out of the picture do you know what you’re going to do with that money that would have gone to your cable bill? What will you do instead of going out to eat? Knowing this in advance will prevent you from falling back into old ways.
- Is it realistic? Your budget may not work out if your income goals are too ambitious. If they are based more on fantasy and less on reality, you will have a hard time.
- Do you have incentives in place? Rewards should go with your budget as a pat on the back for making it happen. These “awards” will be a little (or big) reminder why budgeting is so important (and why you should stick with yours). A vacation, a new outfit or a night out on the town are some examples of ways you can reward yourself.
Make It Fun
Budgeting is not typically enjoyable, but that does not mean you can’t make it entertaining. As previously stated, having a backup plan can keep any holes filled from your cuts, thus preventing abandoning your budget. Some examples include:
- Turn your living room into a theater. Save money from going out to a play or a movie by creating your own in your very living room. Get the kids involved to put on a play, puppet shows the like. Record them for future nights of fun where you can re-live all the funny moments.
- Do date night in. Part of the fun of going out to eat with your significant other is getting dolled up, especially if you never get to. But, you can have a night in and still get dolled up. Bring out the fancy plates, put on some nice clothes and cook a new recipe together. You’ll save money and make memories.
- Create your own entertainment. Build a living room fort and have a picnic in it or plan a night of the week for family game night. You don’t have to always pay for entertainment; it’s often right under your nose in your very own home with the people you love most.
A budget needs to be on-going and monitored in order to work. By checking to make sure it fits you and your needs along with making it amusing, your budgeting process will go a long way. Keep in mind that you can have some flexibility when it comes to your budget as far as periodic adjustments go; just stick with it.
How do you stick with your budget?
Jenn Clark is a writer, PR specialist, entrepreneur, blogger and coffee enthusiast. A lover of laughter, traveling and cheese, she’s written about her life experiences here at suburbanfinance while at the same time growing other young professionals. You can find more of her work at Jennblogs.co.