Budgeting doesn't have to be strict or leave you feeling deprived. There are several ways to ensure you stick to your budget without any issues.
- Devise a system to record expenses.
Whether it is a simple excel spreadsheet or a more sophisticated accounting program, make a note of all expenses, however small they may be. It’s helpful to keep track of everything, even if it’s just a bottle of water or a pack of gum. You will be surprised at how much these little purchases add up to at the end of the month.
- Keep track of savings.
While you record your expenses, you should be recording your savings too. Highlight this number each month. At the end of the year, calculate the sum total savings. When you are tempted to spend money outside the budget, let that increasing figure be a motivator.
- Allow yourself splurges.
Living on a budget does not mean you need to deprive yourself. Planning for and enjoying small splurges is a great way to avoid budget burnout. Think about what kind of treats mean most to you. Saving and preparing for small splurges, such as a nice dinner out or a weekend getaway, can make watching your day to day spending more amenable.
- Put the plastic away.
When you use a credit card for purchases, it is very easy to be unaware of how much you are spending. If you are having trouble staying on budget, leave your credit cards at home. Take the allotted amount of cash out of the ATM at the beginning of the week and pay for your gas, food, and other expenses the old-fashioned way.
- Pay credit card bills in full.
Credit cards are a fact of modern life. If you use your credit card regularly, make a point to pay your monthly bill in full. Pay it every month without fail.
- Make smart choices.
Figure out your own personal penny-pinching shortcuts. Brew your own coffee instead of getting a latte on the way to work. Refill your water bottle at the fountain instead of buying bottled water. Date night can be dinner and a move at home. There are plenty of ways to save money without feeling like you’re missing anything. Identify the penny-saving tricks that don’t feel like sacrifices for you.
- Leave wiggle room for unexpected expenses.
Let’s face it. Life is full of surprises. An unexpected car repair or veterinary bill may send your carefully controlled budget spiraling out of control. When you plan and adjust your monthly budget, make sure to leave some room for flexibility. When these unforeseen expenses pop up, you will need to be able to accommodate them. If you have room in your budget and/or have been saving in previous months, you will be able to face these expenses without bouncing a check or overdrawing your debit account.