3 Easy Steps to Sticking to Your Budget

budget money basics money mindset Aug 27, 2020
Photo by Ruffa Jane Reyes on Unsplash

Today's topic isn't about creating a budget- there are a ton of articles online to help you with that- but how to stay within your budget, every week of the year πŸ“†

There are two fantastic tools for managing your budget online. One is Mint (free, with ads, an Intuit product); the other is You Need A Budget (YNAB, $12/month). Both help you set goals, create a budget (even for yearly expenses like gifts or auto registrations), see how well you're sticking to your budget, and categorize your expenses.

Honestly... just pick the one you like the look of better. Once you use either app for a few months, you'll be able to chart how you want to spend your money, versus how you actually spend your money πŸ“Š

Then, you have choices: You can change your budgeting to reflect your actual spending... or you can learn to stick to your desired budget better. Or maybe a little of both 😁

Here are the 3 simple steps to stick to your budget:

1. Write down your financial priorities. Make it brief. Put it where you will look at it- the fridge, desk, bathroom mirror, a drawer you look in daily etc- anywhere easily accessible. People who write down their goals are 140% more likely to achieve them! πŸ†

Make your goals as concrete as possible. Your goals might be “Pay off car by November 2021. Save $250/month for Isaac, but start with $100/month. Save $100/month in emergency fund until I have $5,000.” Instead, write “Pay off car. Save $100/mo for Isaac’s future. Save $X in emergency fund” on a sticky note. Put that where you’ll read it every day πŸ“ƒπŸ‘€

2. Agree on an amount with your partner- or yourself- where you will not spend over that amount without discussing/thinking about it first. That could be $20, $100, or $500- it's up to you πŸ’²

When you have an impulse purchase- or even a necessary purchase- and you take 30 seconds to think, “Do I really want to spend money on this?”, you will start making better decisions. You may choose to spend the money on an impulse purchase, but over time you will choose to spend more effort towards your financial goals.

By consciously making choices about how you are spending money, you are not going to think, But where does all my money go? at the end of the month πŸ€”

3. Review your financial priorities before you spend anything, ever. It's very easy to buy with one click; but before you go run errands or type in Amazon.com, read your list of financial priorities. It should take less than 30 seconds- that's worth it, right?

In Step 3, all we’re doing is combining Step 1 and Step 2. Read your sticky-note goals to jog your memory about what’s truly important to you. Then think, Do I want to spend money on XYZ? The result is that you will feel more in control of your finances- even when you choose to spend money on things outside your budget πŸ˜€

At first, you may find that impulse purchases, or spending more than you think on budget items, may happen a lot. That’s fine. Stick with these 3 steps and you will notice a difference. You will be more motivated to stick to your goals, and you will also find that you meet your goals more quickly than you first thought πŸ˜„

It’s easy to get discouraged about budget issues. There’s always the unexpected bill, the last-minute purchase. Remember: progress, not perfection πŸ‘

If you find that this process is too hard, but still want to stick to your budget better, then start in stages. Follow Step 1 only- write your goals down on a sticky note, and read that sticky note once a day. Doing that will help you believe that you want and can achieve those goals. Once you internalize your goals, Steps 2 and 3 will be easier, and you’ll be more motivated😊

Practice these 3 steps whenever you spend money, and you’ll stick to your budget far better than you ever have. You will feel more in control of your finances. You’ll be able to save more, spend less, get out of debt, and more: Sticking to your budget means achieving your financial goals 😁

Now That’s Smart Money 🧐

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