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.
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.
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.
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.
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.