Having a budget is really great. I mean, really really great. I owe my status as a homeowner to my budget. The fact that no one has ever come after me for collections (ie- I pay my bills on time) is also something I own to my budget.
But having a budget isn’t enough. It’s like having exercise equipment with your clothes hanging all over it. Staying on budget, and working with it, is necessary for it to be effective.
If you are interested in starting a budget, check out my post here to get started. As you can tell from that post, AV and I have a lot of history with our budget and learned a lot along the way. From that, here are my best tips for staying on that budget this year.
- Organize. Have your budget organized in a format that works for you. I use YNAB, and love it! But there are many options as far as software is concerned. Find what works for you and your lifestyle. Your budget should be easy to read and easy to access.
- Have monthly (or every other month) check-ins. Taking the time to check-in regularly with your budget is so so so important. For two reasons. (1) It lets you know how you did last month (2) It prompts necessary change based on the results.
- Work your budget. Based on your check-in (monthly or every other month), you should know how your doing. For example: Say you budget a $100 for gas. Last month, you spent $130. You need to figure out if you spent more because of an occurrence that isn’t being repeated (example, say you went on a road trip). If that’s the case, keep your budget at $100 for the next month. If not, say you spend $130 on gas and you drove a normal amount…You need to change your budget!!! Add more to you gas line item and finagle funds from somewhere else. Do not set yourself up to fail by under budgeting for necessary items such as transportation, living, food, etc.
- Be proactive, not reactive. You have your budget set up, so follow it. If you have only x amount of dollars for entertainment, know your limits. Say ‘no’ if you need to, to invites to expensive concerts, events, or dinners out. This is one of the hardest habits to create when sticking with a budget. Saying ‘no’ is necessary….unless you have unlimited funds. Right?! It’s hard, but just say ‘no’ sometimes.
- Keep your eye on the prize!! In a world where not many people are on a budget, it may start feeling a bit disheartening. I mean, the world is out there with fabulous new clothes and going out to eat…and you, well you’re on a budget. Wearing not-new clothes and eating your left overs for lunch. But it’s ok. Because you’re saving. Saving for a car, a house, your retirement. Whatever! Keep your eye on the prize! You will be better off for it.
What tips do you have for staying on budget?!