24 Jul Tips for Sticking to a Budget

So, you’ve created a smart and well-thought-out budget that includes the mortgage, the car payment, insurance, groceries, travel expenses, retirement, and everything in between. Your goal is to finally save up for that big item or home project that you and your family have been waiting on buying for months, or even years, now. But how do stay on track with this budget, especially when it runs a little tighter than the lifestyle that you’re used to? Here are some tips to sticking to a strict budget.

List your expenditures each day.

Even if you already have a firm budget in place, keeping track of a month’s worth of expenditures can help you to see how you are functioning with that budget, better notice patterns in your spending habits, and identify any tweaks that need to be made to your budget. Try keeping track of your regular expenditures by listing what your expenditures were at the end of each day. As an added bonus, the prospect of having to write down even those impulse purchases could deter you from making those impulse purchases in the first place.

Review your finances each day.

Similarly, take a brief survey of your financial situation and your budget each day so that you have a realistic view of what you can afford. If not, it can be easy to delude yourself into thinking that you have more in your bank account than you really do.

Try to talk yourself out of purchases.

You could even make it a type of game for yourself—how capable are you of talking yourself out of this unnecessary purchase that you are really tempted to make? Changing your mindset from “I could use this” to “reasons I don’t need this” will help to cut down on unnecessary purchases tremendously.

Sleep on financial decisions.

Could you afford to wait a day or two before making a certain purchase? Spend some time away from the store—which is often where you’ll feel most excited about that item—and see what life is like without the purchase. If it still seems as though it is something that you rationally need after taking some time to decide, then you can go back and make that purchase.

Opt for free items over paid ones.

This might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how often you might be paying for things that you don’t need to be paying for. Do you regularly order soda or coffee at the restaurant? Go for water, which is usually free, instead. Do you purchase books for pleasure reading? Go to the public library instead. Do you have a gym membership? Try exercising outside or doing “living room” routines that use only your body weight.

Save that unexpected extra money.

Did you happen to come in under budget last month, or did you unexpectedly receive an additional source of money? Put that money straight to savings. What’s wrong with sticking to your budget and then doing one better?

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