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10 Ways To Stay Accountable With Your Money and Finances

10 Ways To Stay Accountable With Your Money and Finances

Budgeting is more than simply allocating money for monthly expenses. People who know how to budget have a systematic way of handling money. Aside from regulating their spending, frugal people often have their finances planned in advance.

However, sticking to a financial plan isn’t as easy as it may seem. Many of us quit our budget plans the moment we mess up our finances. We give up after a month or two of recording and track expenditures. Is there an easy way to track your budget and finances? Here are ten simple points to remember:

1. Think Strategically

What is the whole point of making a budget? When making your budget, always remember that it’s there to help keep you out of debt. The goal of your budget is to create a better  future that will give you more financial freedom.

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2. Set Financial Goals

Is there a project you want to save for this year? What financial goals can you set to make this project happen? When creating goals, make sure you’ve both set up short and long term plans. There are a lot of money management apps out there that can help you allocate your money easily.

3. Prepare for Emergencies

Always have an emergency fund. When things aren’t going well, an emergency fund can save you from debt and stress. Prepare in case of medical emergencies, layoffs, or divorce. Proper preparation assures that you have money for what’s important to you.

4. Limit Budget

When you are too comfortable with your budget, you find it easier to slip into overspending. Try to limit everything to a fair calculation. Don’t give yourself a lot of money to spend for things you don’t even need.

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5. Set Boundaries

Lending money to friends and family members are sometimes the cause of money shortage. So before you decide to lend money, make sure you have your own finances in order first. There is always a possibility that your money won’t be given back by a friend or family member.

6. Take Away Options That Make You Cheat Your Budget

Stop carrying credit cards if you are prone to buy impulsively. Instead, carry cash all the time. Quit browsing on your favorite online shops if you are out of money. You can block the site if you find yourself compulsively checking it out. On this same note, you can also create visual reminders that will help you remember your goals. For example, you can display a note to remind yourself to stay on budget.

7. Find Like–Minded Groups

Find a friend, support group, or online friends who are determined to keep their finances planned just like you. Having a finance buddy could help you to stick with your goals and stay accountable. You and your penny-wise buddy can even exchange spreadsheets (within reason) and evaluate spending.

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8. Build A Reward System

Don’t forget to give yourself rewards for a job well done! Staying faithful to your financial plan for a month is a big deal, that’s why you should give yourself a pat on the back. Find an inexpensive activity or item that will fit as a pleasurable reward for you.

9. Track Your Spending

Track where your money goes. This technique will help you stay accountable and on budget. There are many apps that can help you manage your expenses like Money Manager, Mint, and Good Budget.

10. Schedule A Periodic Budget Evaluation

Don’t forget to evaluate. Monitor how you are doing with your finances. What are the factors that prevent you from staying on budget? What categories can you tweak to create a better and more accountable financial plan? Set aside a specific time or the day or week to make sure you’re not overspending.

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Conclusion

Knowing a lot about finances and money management can help you create a debt free future. So invest in yourself but avoid instant gratification. Spend your time getting tips and advice from financially-savvy people. You can even hire an accountability expert or a financial advisor if you find it hard to do on your own. Ultimately in finance, the more you know about money, the better you’ll be at managing it.

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Armela Escalona

Freelance Writer

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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