Budget Strategies: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Budget

You sat down wrote out your budget and you have your financial goals in front of you. Theoretically, you should be able to reach them by the end of the year, if you stick to your budget. But every time you are out, you are faced with the temptation to spend just a little bit more than you had planned on. It doesn’t seem like that ten dollars will hurt anything, right? It is only ten dollars. But do that several times and you’ve gone and blown the budget. Here are some tips to keep you motivated to stick to your budget.

1) If there is one area that is proving especially difficult, then you need to drastically change what you are doing in that area. If you keep going out to lunch with your friends, even though you’ve brought your lunch from home, you may suggest that you go for a walk after you eat instead. If you change up your routine, it is easier to change your habits.

2) If you have switched to a cash only basis, then leave your debit and credit cards at home (or in the car) when you go into a store. This way you will really watch what you are putting in the cart. Nothing is a bigger motivator than possibly not having enough to pay for everything at check out.

3) If your grocery budget is a problem, you can look through your cart at the end of the trip and take out three or four unnecessary items and put them back. This can save you about ten dollars a trip. It may be more, depending on what you are putting back.

4) Reward yourself. I am a big proponent of bribing myself to do things that I really don’t want to do. You can set aside money so that at the end of the month you can go to a movie, out to dinner or buy something new, if you have stuck to your budget for the month. Of course if you don’t make it, that money will be needed to cover the difference.

5) Make sure that you’ve given yourself a little bit of wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses. These will happen every month. Your emergency fund is a great way to cover these, but it should be used for emergencies not dinner out.

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