What Are You Doing to Help You Stay on Your Budget? These Tips Will Help
Budgets are like New Year’s resolutions. They are easy to make and hard to stick to. A big part of the problem is that deep down, we fundamentally don’t want to do it. No one wants to save money. What we want to do is spend money. No one wants to go on a diet and limit what they eat. They want to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and in whatever proportions they want. Dieting goes against our truest desires, and so does budgeting. It is like dieting, but for your wallet.
The main reason we try to live with a budget is that we know it is good for us. Unfortunately, something being good for us is not enough incentive to keep us on track. Everyone knows that smoking isn’t good for them. That hasn’t stopped the tobacco industry from continuing to profit from selling poison to the masses. We happily do all sorts of things that are bad for us. So we need either a greater incentive or more tools to help us do what we know is best. If you need help staying on your budget, try these tips:
Write It Down
The budget that you carry in your head doesn’t count. If you want to take your own budget seriously, you need to source a good budget planner and write it down. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- It serves as a physical reminder
- You don’t have to worry about forgetting the details
- You can hold yourself accountable by sharing it with others
- It will help others in the household know what to expect
- The effort of writing it down gives you more skin in the game
There is nothing more essential to staying on track with your budget than emergency savings. The reason is that there will always be a need for emergency spending somewhere down the line. If your budget pretends like everything is going to run smoothly with no bumps in the road, it is not realistic and is setting you up for failure.
Real-life just doesn’t work that way. You are going to need to go to the dentist and pay out of pocket. Your child is going to need medicine not covered by insurance. While you knew you were going to be moving in a few months, you forgot to include the hefty deposit. Having emergency savings means you can cover those unexpected expenses without blowing the budget. Without savings, your budget goes out of the window.
You can’t just keep your budgetary plans to yourself and assume you will be reliable enough to keep it going. You are exactly the kind of spender who needs a budget in the first place. If you couldn’t trust yourself when you didn’t have a budget, you shouldn’t trust yourself when you do develop a budget.
There is the matter of setting up the budget in the first place. With a second set of eyes, you can spot the mistakes before trying to live by a bad budget. You also need to get the cooperation of everyone in the house. You have to make a budget for the whole family, not just yourself. If everyone is not onboard, you don’t actually have a budget.
Back in the dark ages, stores used to offer something called layaway. They would set aside the item you wanted and allow you to make regular payments until the full price is met. There are good reasons why stores stopped doing this. But you can still do it, sort of.
Get a mason jar and affix a picture and price of the item you want to buy. Keep a ledger on how much you put in the jar. When you have enough saved up, buy the item with a good conscience. If you stay disciplined, you can buy almost anything you want without blowing the budget with this simple trick. The longer it takes you to purchase the item, the greater the chances the price will decrease.
Sticking to your budget will never be easy. But it will be possible if you write it down, have emergency savings, stay accountable, and use a form of layaway to buy the things you really want.