Creating and sticking to a budget is the foundation for financial success. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. It doesn’t matter how much debt you have. It doesn’t matter where your financial health stands today. If you learn how to budget properly, and you stick with it over the long-run, you will succeed.
It is an easy concept to grasp. We all know and understand it. Make as much as you can. Spend less than you earn. Live below your means. The steps seem so very simple, so why is it so hard to stick with it?
4 Tips for Successful Budgeting
Consistently following a budget has helped countless people take control of their financial lives and set them on the course to an easier, less stressful life. Think about how much more relaxed you would be if you were in control of your money instead of your money (or your lack of money) controlling you. How much happier would you be if you weren’t constantly stressing out about meeting your mortgage payment or keeping food on the table? Often times, the answer isn’t in making more money – although that is always a plus. Much of the time, the answer to your financial woes is learning to live with what you already have. That’s where budgeting comes in.
Still, even the most militant of budgeters can have trouble sticking to their budget over the long-term. Successful budgeting can be hard work. That’s why I’ve come up with these 4 tips to help you stay the budgeting course.
Write it Down
I know that I say this all the time, but it is so important that I am going to repeat myself again: Write down your budget. Writing it down on paper gives your budget a tangible effect. The numbers on the paper give you a visual. Your money isn’t just numbers in your head. The are hard numbers on paper. It makes the money more real. Writing it down can also help you to discover any holes that you may miss if you are just budgeting in your head.
Keep Your Focus
Long-term successful budgeting often starts with setting a goal. Maybe you want to save up enough money to be able to go to a concert this fall. Perhaps you are trying to pay down all of your credit card or student loan debt over the next 2 years. Or, maybe your goal is to retire at age 50. Better yet, keep all three of these goals…and set a timeline for each. Personally, I like to set short-term, mid-range, and long-term savings goals. The more specific and concrete the goals, the more motivation you will have to stick to your budget.
Regularly Track Your Progress
Budgeting is going to get awfully tedious if you never see any progress. That is why I recommend regularly checking-in with your goals so that your progress is obvious. Constantly saving can be booooorrrrring. Reaching your goals, on the other hand, is exciting! Each month, look to see how much closer you are to meeting your goals. Let your progress motivate you to stick with your budget month after month.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. For serious. Deprivation can be the death of motivation. Sometimes, you just have to give yourself a break. Your good budgeting behavior deserves a reward. Treat yourself to a movie or an ice cream cone once a month. Just remember to keep it reasonable…and put it in the budget!
Budgeting can be difficult if you don’t have anything to look forward to. That is why so many people who know the basics of successful budgeting fail to persevere through the process. Use these tips to help keep your money under control and your budget on the right track.
How do you keep yourself motivated to stick to your budget? What tips can you share?