10 Tips for Staying on Budget

Published on December 31st, 2013

Good work! You have created a budget and know how much money you have coming in and going out. Yes, it can be frustrating, but sticking to it is even more difficult. It may be overwhelming to always be practical, careful and responsible. Follow these tips to stay on budget, relieve financial stress and therefore make life better all around.

1. Focus on savings.
Determine the amount of your budget that you can afford to save each month. Have it directly deposited into your savings account or mutual fund. Wherever you decide to keep your savings, make sure you put the money into it each month – it will make a big difference for you down the road.

2. Use cash.
Take out enough cash to last one week at a time. Make up your mind that the amount you have is all you get for things you could live without (discretionary expenses) for a week. It is much easier to say no to temptation than when you have to swipe a credit or debit card.

3. Cut bad habits.
Whatever your bad habit may be, you know it can get expensive. Stop smoking, drinking, gambling, or whatever is costing you so much money and put that money toward other expenses. You’ll find that bills come down in no time. If drinking or smoking is your vice, cutting down will also allow you to save on health care expenses in the future and possible make you eligible for lower insurance premiums.

4. Share the responsibility.
Make sure others in your household are concerned with your budget as well. If you are making a genuine effort to save money, but your spouse is spending you into debt, you will lose the battle. Make a plan together to determine how much spending money you each should have, and check in weekly to see how well you’re doing. If the entire family shares the responsibility for your budget, each person can cut back just a little and make a significant difference.

5. Pay down debt.
If you have credit card debt, you may feel like it will take you forever to pay it all off. Choose one card – ideally the one with the highest interest rate – and pay as much as you can on it each month. If you have other cards, pay the minimum balance on them until the first is totally paid off. Then, choose the next card and repeat the process. If you pay only the minimums on all your cards, you’ll be paying a lot more interest than you realize.

6. Keep your receipts.
In order to set up your budget, you most likely monitored your expenses. It can be tempting to stop keeping track of every expense once the budget has been made; however, it can help you say on budget. You will be less likely to overspend if you realize how much money has been going out.

7. Balance your checkbook.
It is good to get into the habit of balancing your checkbook regularly. If you are on a tight budget, a couple of mistakes could lead to overdraft charges and insufficient funds in your account.

8. Analyze your spending.
Look through your budget and receipts. Are there any expenses that you could cut, such as bringing your lunch to work a couple times a week or carpooling with a friend? Simply cutting out restaurant and gas costs can help increase the amount of money you have available for savings and other purchases.

9. Set up a special account.
If you find yourself constantly digging into your savings, set up a CD (certificate of deposit) or other account with early withdrawal penalties. Banks pay more interest if you agree to let them use your money for a longer amount of time.

10. Be flexible.
Remember that life is unpredictable and things happen beyond your control. When creating a budget, account for variable expenses. You should also go easy on yourself if you go over on your budget – it’s tough to get back on track if you let yourself get too frustrated.



Courtesy of How Stuff Works

Back to News