Sticking to Your Budget
So you spent the time to create your budget, now what? You added up all of your monthly trips to your favorite places and realize you spend way too much on things you don’t really need and would rather put more into savings every month. But how do you cut back without feeling like you are missing out on all those things you have gotten used to having?
When you find yourself at the beginning of this financial journey, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to be aware of your numbers at all times. However you decide to keep track of your monthly expenses, do so in a way that you can always know how much you have spent in each category for the month so far. Having this number in your head will help you decide whether you really want to make the next purchase or not.
If you’ve already gone through the effort to create your budget, then you are likely committed to sticking to it. If you see that it’s only the 10th of the month and you’ve already used half your budget in a particular category, then you’re going to have some days without at the end of the month, if you are going to stay within budget. Instead, think about spreading out your ‘skip the purchase’ days throughout the month so you don’t have to go without for a whole week at the end of the month.
Think about finding cheaper versions of what you like. Could you get a regular coffee instead of a cappuccino? Could you choose a cheaper restaurant to meet your friends at for drinks after work? Could you rent a movie instead of going to the theater? Living on a budget doesn’t have to mean giving up the things you love, but it might mean getting creative in the way you do the things you love.
Your first month probably won’t be perfect, and that’s okay! If you spend less than you did before you had a budget, then you are moving closer to staying within budget and that’s what counts. Keep at it for a few months and before you know it, sticking to your budget will be part of your regular habit and you will find yourself skipping those splurges without a second thought.