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Learning How to Stick to a Budget

July 13th 2016 by
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If you find it difficult to stick to your budget, you might have created one that’s too strict for your lifestyle. That doesn’t mean a budget can’t work for you, though. There are a few things you can do create one that is easier to follow.

Define a Goal

The first step to getting your budget in order is to create a goal by asking yourself what you want out of life in the short and long term.  For many people, it is first about damage control to get debt out of the way from consumer or student loans.  For others, it is about the future: possible businesses they could start, owning a home or saving for an enjoyable retirement. Knowing what you’re working toward will greatly improve your motivation.

You’ll also need to schedule your goal so that it does not remain with a permanent “it will happen someday” status.  The best way to do this is by creating an automatic monthly amount toward savings or debt so it is manageable and consistent.  You can either open an account or save up cash each month to put towards it, only putting whatever you can reasonably afford each month.  Even if it is only $10, it will add up.

Track Spending

If you do not know how much money you’re spending and where it is going, it is impossible to determine what costs you can cut.  Instead of keeping a list in your head, write it down so you don’t forget anything that would quickly add up.  You can make a list, create spreadsheets, use the online banking service your financial institution offers, or use budgeting apps that are available for free.

Leave Wiggle Room

It is important to start out slowly so you don’t become discouraged after a few weeks and begin splurging.  Even if you see a great deal or get coupons, many purchases will still be outside of your budget.  However, allow yourself a small amount of money for small, miscellaneous, inexpensive costs to give yourself a break and avoid building temptation.

Monitor Your Progress

Compare your budget to what you actually spend every day to ensure that you are not going over budget too often due to auto repairs or unexpected expenses. If this happens, you may need to modify your goals or spending and stay motivated.

Remember, you may need to move money from category to category so you need to be flexible.  This may involve making sacrifices such as bringing lunch a few times instead of buying so your child can join their favorite club to avoid overspending.

You can quickly create a budget to help you get your spending under control.  Analyze your finances and move toward a better financial future today!

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