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6 Ways to Prevent Your Budget from Failing

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6 Ways to Prevent Your Budget from Failing

The word “budget” has such a negative connotation in today’s society.  Individuals associate the act of budgeting with some sort of militant regimen that hinders them from having any sort of flexibility with their money.

The end result?  Failure.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prevent your budget from failing and make it work for you, minus the ball and chain.

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Before you create your budget, track spending for at least one month to get a better idea of where your money actually goes.  Once you’ve taken this pertinent step, consider the following tips to help you stay on track throughout the month.

1) Be as specific as possible.

Fluffy budgets are destined for failure because they do not consider all the key factors.  Big expenses are important, but it is the little things that will usually send you flying off the deep-end.  If your budget demonstrates that you can cover all your fixed expenses with a little change to spare, you may feel somewhat satisfied until you realize midway through the month that things are going down-hill because you forgot to incorporate the daily visit to the nearest fast-food joint for lunch.  Bottom line: every cent counts, so be sure to include those variable expenses down to the penny.

To help you track variable spending, it may be a good idea to incorporate the envelope system.  That way, your budget won’t stand a chance at failing.

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2) Set realistic expectations.

It never hurts to dream big, but actually making them a reality is another story.  The same rule applies to budgeting: unrealistic figures will set you up for failure each and every month.

If you know that you spend a certain amount of money each week on groceries, do not attempt to cut the number in half just for the sake of making the budget balance.  Instead, make small cuts over time to build the momentum and prevent you from getting discouraged.

3) Believe in yourself.

This may sound a bit strange, but successful budgeting has a lot to do with your attitude.  If you are pessimistic about the process and your inability to successfully commit to the plan from inception, you will probably fail miserably.  On the other hand, if you learn to view your budget as a spending plan that will help you accomplish your current and future financial goals, you will more than likely be inclined to remain on track because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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4) Solicit the assistance of an accountability partner.

Do not go out and ask your best buddy who agrees with everything you say and do for help.  This is actually counter-productive.  Instead, find someone to check-in with on a consistent basis who will be honest with you and hold you accountable for your spending habits each month.

Some even go the extra mile to hire a financial coach that is seasoned in budgeting and can provide extensive assistance with budgeting.

5) Prepare for the unexpected.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where emergencies did not exist?  Wishful thinking.  Unexpected occurrences are inevitable, so it is important to incorporate a little padding in your budget each month to cover those moments that completely catch you off guard.  Also, stash away a little cash each month to build up that emergency fund.

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6) Cut yourself a little slack.

Let’s face it: sticking to a budget is hard work.  That is why positive reinforcement is so important.  Develop some sort of reward system for yourself that will motivate you to keep your eyes on the prize each month.

Following these tips on a consistent basis will help put your mind at ease when developing and executing your monthly spending plan.

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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