Budgeting is never fun. It can be difficult to stick to a budget because most people don’t enjoy sacrificing the things they love, like a dinner with friends or a relaxing spa day. You must remember that it’s all for a greater good.
The trick is to stay motivated even when the temptation to indulge yourself is strongest. Here are some easy, useful tips for staying motivated and staying on budget.
Always Shop with a List
Even if you’re only buying a pair of shoes or a sprig of rosemary, jot it down before you go shopping, and stick to it. A list is a reminder of why you’re in the store in the first place and it keeps you focused. It makes you aware of the money you’re going to spend and removes surprises. A list is a plan, and most people can stick to a plan.
There’s an App for That
Your smartphone is a monthly expense, but you can also use it as a tool to help you stay on-budget. While there are a lot of budget apps, two of the more popular ones are Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB). Both allow users to create a budget with a few taps of your finger.
Treat Receipts Like Gold and Log Every Expense
Make a habit of keeping your receipts, but don’t just throw them in a shoebox in the back of your closet. Create a filing system to stay organized and then transfer the information to a spreadsheet so you can filter and sort. This will allow you to see what you’re spending money on and make sure you aren’t exceeding your monthly budget.
Create an Inexpensive Reward System
Your monthly sacrifices should be met with a reward. The reward can be free and as simple as a relaxing bath or baking some delicious brownies. If you insist on buying a reward (which is understandable), then set a $20 limit. And make sure you keep the receipt from your reward; you don’t want to break your good habits!
Motivation Makes All the Difference
Budgets work best when paired with a goal, and that goal should be based on what motivates you. Keep that goal at the forefront of your mind and don’t stray. Do you want to be a homeowner? Does an annual trip to Cancun excite you? Do you want to upgrade your vehicle? Budgets are designed to help you spend less than you make. That extra money is for you to enjoy if your essentials are paid.
Be motivated, be headstrong, and pay attention to the small details. A detailed budget will ensure that your finances are clear and manageable. You deserve to know where your hard-earned money is going every month, and you don’t deserve the stress that comes with recklessly living without a budget.
Rob Shapiro | Contributing Writer