Creating a Budget You Can Stick To

Written by , August 15, 2011

Creating a Budget You Can Stick ToCreating a budget isn’t rocket science. Once you get started, you’ll find that it’s really pretty easy. You don’t even have to be a math whiz – that’s what calculators are for.

But sticking to your budget is often an entirely different matter. Some people find that simply creating a budget and seeing how much money they can save is incentive enough to stay with it. Others find themselves faltering after a few months, or worse, not even getting off the ground with it.

Here is some budgeting advice that you need to consider help keep yourself on track.

  • Be realistic. Sometimes we get a little bit carried away when creating our budgets and don’t allocate realistic amounts. $300 for a month of groceries for a family of four looks great on paper and leaves more money for other things, but it doesn’t allow for very healthy eating habits. To avoid lowballing your estimates, look how much you spent on a given category in recent months. Then look for workable ways to lower that amount.
  • Save room for some fun. The first items to go on many budgets are non-essentials such as entertainment. It’s good to cut out unnecessary expenses, but if you don’t keep any funds free for things that you enjoy, it will be much harder to stick to your budget. You may eventually get frustrated and make a big purchase because you feel like you deserve it, throwing your budget way off course. Allowing for small indulgences once in a while is much less expensive.
  • Keep your budget up to date. Our finances aren’t static, so our budgets shouldn’t be static either. If you incur a new expense, even if it’s a small one, put it into your budget so that you can make adjustments elsewhere. If you start making more money, add it in so that you can use it as wisely as possible. If you don’t keep your budget up to date, you’re setting yourself up for lots of frustration.
  • Budget for emergencies. You never know when an emergency is going to occur, so it’s important to always be prepared for one. Set aside a certain amount each month to go into an emergency fund. That way when the unexpected happens, you won’t have to pull out the credit card or use money that was reserved for your monthly bills.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes your first attempt at making a budget just doesn’t work out. It’s often tempting to just hang it up, but don’t. Instead, look at your budget and see what’s not working, fix it, and move on. If you still have problems, keep making adjustments until you get it right.
  • Sometimes the inability to stick to a budget is due to a lack of discipline. But more often it’s because there are issues with the budget itself. Before you throw in the towel, examine your budget and see just what’s going wrong. You’ll probably find that some minor modifications will make your budget easier to stick to.

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