If you struggle to stick to your budget. If your budget fails month after month. If you have a "set it and forget it" attitude towards budgeting. Then, this article is for you. Instead of letting your money run wild, implement these five tips to help you take control of your finances, and successfully stick to your budget:
1. WRITE IT DOWN.
You cannot keep an accurate budget in your head! You need to write down your budget. If you're not sure where to start or how to organize your budget, I highly recommend downloading a copy of our free fillable budgeting worksheet. Did you know that by writing down your goals you're 42 percent more likely to achieve them? A budget that is in writing reminds you of the direction you are guiding your finances and reinforces the importance of sticking to your budget so that you can achieve your financial goals.
2. BE REALISTIC.
It's ok to want to change certain spending habits. I'll go a step further and say that it's even more than "ok," it's good. But, when you're changing certain habits, don't make changes so extreme that you're bound to fail. Here's what I mean...let's say you want to cut back on how often you order takeout meals or dine in at restaurants. For this example, let's say that you typically eat out 4 times per week - so approximately 16 times per month. You come to me and say, "Annika, I've decided I want to cut back on how often I eat out. So this month, I'm only going to eat out 4 times." You guys! This isn't even in the realm of realistic! It's a great goal to want to cut back on your eating out expenses, but cutting from 16 meals per month to 4 meals per month is just doomed to fail. Instead, I would encourage you to plan to eat out just 3 times per week this month instead of 4. Be realistic. Trim little by little so that you are successful in sticking to your budget.
3. TRACK IT.
In my time as a financial coach, I have found that the most common reason people fail to stick to their budgets is that they fail to accurately track their budgets. If you are going to succeed at budgeting, you have to track your spending and update your budget as the month goes. Two of my favorite budget-tracking methods include: (1) the cash envelope system, and (2) a budgeting app like EveryDollar or Mint. I like these two methods because they are easy to use and honestly don't require a lot of additional time and attention from users in order to accurately track their budgets throughout the month. However, you ultimately have to find the budget tracking method that works for you, whether that's a budgeting app or an old-school checkbook balance sheet!
4. DON'T IGNORE IT.
A "set it and forget it" attitude does not work with budgeting. If you are going to successfully stick to your budget, you need to check in with your budget throughout the month. (If you're married, these check-ins should be done with your spouse.) If you're new to budgeting, I recommend that you check in with your budget once a week. This will allow you to make sure your budget is staying on track and pause to make any necessary adjustments. As you get more comfortable budgeting, the need for check-ins decreases, but it will never completely disappear. Even if you have been budgeting for decades, it's still important to re-evaluate your budget from time to time and make sure your money choices continue to align with your financial goals.
5. GET A COACH.
It is the job of a financial coach to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and how these affect your finances, help you make a financial plan that allows you to achieve your goals, and hold you accountable on your journey to financial freedom. If you're struggling with budgeting, it's time to bring a financial coach on board! For 3 years now, my husband and I been working with people who are overwhelmed with their finances or simply feel like they're not gaining traction with their financial goals. We are passionate about helping people take control of their finances because we know the peace that comes with financial freedom. Visit our website and schedule your free financial consult today.
I'll be honest with you. Budgeting isn't easy. Just like any new skill or habit, it takes time to get good at it. In fact, it will take about 90 days for you to begin feeling comfortable with your budget. Remember, that just like any other new skill or habit, it will take practice and consistency in order to improve this skill. Don't give up after your first mistake. Instead, reset your budget and keep moving forward. You've got this!