My next post is from Ashley with Budgets Made Easy. She was able to pay off $45,000 in 17 months. She now inspires people to budget and pay off their debt also.
Making a budget and sticking to it can be easy and even fun at times.
When you stick to your budget, you are less stressed about money. You get to have fun without guilt. You can even say no to things you really don’t want to do without guilt. You can even stop living paycheck-to-paycheck.
When you can stick to your budget, you can even become debt-free (and stay that way)!
These simple tips are the same things that I did to stick to my budget and pay off $45,000 in just 17 months.
I was able to pay off all my debt with a budget and a plan. Everything starts with a budget. The faster you can do and learn how to stick to it, the better off you will be.
I started a budget at a very early age but it took me years and some big mistakes to figure out the best way to do it. I still make mistakes and struggle with temptation, as we all do. I will say that it gets easier with time and practice.
Making a monthly budget is fairly easy once you sit down and do it.The month to month budget is basically the same. Then you make small adjustments depending on what is going on that month.
5 Simple Tips For Sticking To Your Budget
Making a budget is just the start to your financial journey. The next and sometimes the hardest part is actually sticking to it. These simple tips will help you be more successful with your budget. They are easy to implement and will save you money every month.
1. Write It Down
The most important thing to do with a budget (besides starting one) is to WRITE it down! Especially the first 6 months. After that, you can move to a spreadsheet or app. This is very important for sticking to your budget.
Your budget is a goal for your money. You are 1.5 times more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down. It is important to write it down because it becomes more real.
So, to increase the chances of sticking to it, write it down.
2. Use Cash Envelopes
Cash envelopes are a great way to stay on budget. Basically, the idea is that you take out cash for certain categories and when you run out, you stop spending in that category. You don’t have to do cash for everything. You can still use checks or online bill pay for bills.
This is more for categories like; food, fun money, kids, eating out, miscellaneous, animals, things like that. This would be good for any category that you struggle with when it comes to impulse spending or sticking to the budget for that category.
You actually spend anywhere from 15-20% less when using cash compared to swiping a card. So, using a debit card still isn’t the same. When you have cash in hand, it is psychologically harder to spend it.
This took me a couple of months to get used to but once I got the hang of it, I feel lost without my cash. Try it out for food at first. Go to the grocery store with only your grocery money. Do not take a card for backup. Keep track of your spending while shopping on a calculator. You will be surprised as I was, what I wanted to buy and what wasn’t worth it to me when I had cash compared to a card.
3. Plan For The Unexpected
It’s a lot easier to stick to your budget if you plan for anything and everything. It is also a good practice to focus on a small $1000 emergency fund for things that you may have forgotten.
Some categories that are easily forgotten include:
house and vehicle maintenance
If you plan for these in your budget, then they are less likely to mess it up. What I like to do is think of all the things that could come up in the month. I decided what is important to me and what I can maybe avoid or hold off until the next month.
Something else you can do depending on your personality, is focus on one of those categories and save it up to your desired amount, then move to the next. This way, it’s not coming out of your budget every month but it’s there when you need it. I like this method for me, but you may like saving a little each month.
I do better with one saving goal at a time. When I am trying to do 5 at once, it’s harder to focus. So, try both and see which way works best for you.
An example of this:
Property taxes: $1200 a year
Monthly cost: $100 every month
Save what you can afford in batches. For instance; $600 two months in a row or something like that, then move that $600 to the next savings goal. I personally do better with this method but you might like a monthly savings amount better.
4. Cut Expenses
Another way to make it easier to stick to your budget is to cut your expenses. If you have more bills than income, start here. You have to decide what can be cut, even if it’s only temporary.
Make a list of all your bills and see if there are any luxuries that can be cancelled.
Eating out (fast food or restaurants)
hair and nails
I know some of you will want to argue about some of these, but think about it. You do not ANY of these to survive. You need food, shelter, and transportation to work. That’s it. If you need room in your budget, figure out what can go.
A budget is simply prioritizing your money. This means you only have what you have, not your paycheck plus so much on a credit card every month.
If you have room in your budget and it is important to you, that’s okay too. However, if you need things to cut to stick to your budget, start here.
Then start looking at other things, like shopping around for insurance, adjusting deductibles, being insured for appropriate things and amounts.
You also don’t have to completely cancel some of these things. You can call and lower your plans and save money that way. I have also saved a ton of money by calling to cancel things, like cable. They give me credits for 12 months to stay. I lowered my bill from $100 a month to $40 by doing this and only paying for channels we actually watch.
5. Don’t Give Up
The last and most important tip is DON’T GIVE UP! Everyone makes mistakes and things will come up that mess up the budget. It’s okay. Learn from it and move on. Don’t let it mess up the rest of the month by giving up.
It’s kind of like when I’m on a diet. I will do really well most of the day then dinner time comes. I will eat a ton of calories and then say “screw it” and then eat a pack of Oreo’s. With your budget, when you mess up at dinner, don’t give up and spend a bunch of money on Oreo’s because it’s already messed up. It could be the difference between a $50 set back and $150.
I hear people say this with budgets and diets actually, “I will start again on Monday” after something messes them up. When something get you off track, don’t give up and say you will start again on Monday. Say you will start again right now and keep going.
Think about it this way, your budget will not be perfect every single month. Things will come up. Emergencies will happen. You will forget to budget for something. It is inevitable. Know that going in so it won’t be such a surprise later. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Move on and keep going.
These simple tips will help you stay on track with your budget and save money. The important thing is to start a budget, find ways to save money and don’t give up.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier to stick to. A budget allows you to do so many things that you want to do. You even get to have fun without stress and guilt. It won’t always be perfect but nothing is. Just keep learning and keep going.
About the author:
Ashley is the owner of Budgets Made Easy. She was able to pay off $45,000 in 17 months. Now she helps people budget their money so they can pay off their debt. You can follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.