One of the hardest things about budgeting is sticking to your plan. You have high ideals, preparing to live on a budget and keep your expenses down. But, after a while, you start to get tired of always having to pinch your pennies and keep track of everything. Soon enough, you are no longer following your budget. And you vow once more to get on track and stick to a budget. Before you make another budget, consider these tips for creating one that you can live with:
Budget According to Your Priorities
You more likely to stick with a budget if it reflects your priorities. Consider what is important to you. You can base your budget around the things you value most. That way, if you don’t have the money to spend on things that aren’t as important, you don’t feel as put out if you can’t buy them. Make sure you budget in the important stuff, and then leave out the other items.
Make Saving a Fun Game
You can also turn saving money into a fun game. No, you don’t want to turn into a miser. But you can make it a point of pride to get good deals. Instead of thinking about what you aren’t getting, think about what you’ll do with that saved money. Retire to a beach? Get that patio set you’ve wanted? Go on vacation without the kids? Consider what you could do with that money. You have something else planned for it, suddenly saving doesn’t seem like such a burden.
You can start your budget from a realistic place. Track your spending for a month or two. Then, you can see where your problem areas are and work to avoid them. You can also see what you are really spending money. Create a budget that accurately reflects your obligations and your habits. You will want to change some of your habits, of course, but you can be realistic by acknowledging that it may take some time to make those changes. You can tweak your budget later, in a few months, to more realistically reflect the changes you are making. Part of the fun of budgeting is revising when you make progress.
Consider a Spending Plan
Instead of relying on a budget, you might enjoy a spending plan more. I actually prefer this type of setup. I have a plan for most of money, making sure it goes toward a purpose. Any left over money can be used for “fun.” For some, this approach works better. As long as you aren’t spending more than you make, this can be a good solution.