So, you finally made your budget. You put your foot down and built a plan for success. Now that your budget is in place, there’s only one thing left to do: stick to it.
Here are 5 tips to help you stay on budget:
1. Cut bad habits
Bad habits can make it hard to save money and stay on budget. To get started, identify your 1-2 worst spending habits and work on those first. For example: if you buy coffee every morning and lunch every afternoon, try brewing your morning coffee at home and packing your lunch. Two small changes like these can lead to big savings.
2. Plan for the unexpected
It’s a fact of life. Just when your finances are cruising along, your car breaks down. Or your water heater stops working. Or you totally forgot about the gift for your cousin’s wedding next weekend. Whatever it is, put aside some money each month to give yourself some wiggle room. This way you can handle these sudden costs with no worries about your budget. If you want to start a savings account for larger unexpected expenses, check out these tips to build an emergency fund.
3. Use a budget calculator
If you could use some help organizing your budget, online budget calculators are a fast and easy solution. All you do is enter your monthly income, expenses and savings goals. The calculator will then provide a realistic view of how that budget works, which could make it easier to stick to or adjust. Sound like something you could use? Try our OneMain budget calculator.
4. Find a budget buddy
Sometimes a little encouragement and/or tough love can go a long way. If you respond well to supervision, ask your spouse or a financially savvy friend or family member to be your budget buddy. Once you choose a person, decide how often you want to “check in” and discuss your budget. Remember to be honest — your buddy can’t help you if you don’t open up.
5. Track your successes
Tracking your spending might seem obvious but celebrating milestones and mini-victories may not be. Did you save your first $100? Yep. Did you avoid the coffeehouse for an entire work week? Sure did. Have you not bought a lotto ticket in over a month? Dang right. Stopping for a moment to give yourself credit can be just as rewarding as keeping those dollars in your pocket. And, it gives you time to set the next mini-goal to crush.
Take it one dollar at a time
If budgeting were easy, everyone would do it. The fact that you’ve come this far and have a budget in place says a lot. Stay focused, don’t let small slip-ups slow you down and enjoy each victory along the way.