5 Fixes for Your Broken Budget
Has your budget gone bust again? Don’t worry, it happens to lots of people and is no reason to give up. It helps to know that there’s much more to it than just saving receipts and adding up numbers. Here are five remedies that you may not have thought of.
Track your spending – all of it
You can’t stick to a realistic budget if you’re not counting every dollar you spend. Spur of the moment expenses can easily escape your notice. The solution? Get in the habit of noting the expense of everything you buy by using a budgeting app. Your phone goes everywhere you go – add an app and it can serve as your personal budgeting assistant.
Build a support system
Budgeting means changing your habits and that’s never easy. Meredith Bisiker, writing in the Huffington Post, says you’re more likely to succeed in changing your spending behavior if you enlist the folks around you to help out. One way to do that is to find a budget buddy, someone to accompany you on your quest. You’ll have a friend at your side who can share your budgeting ups and downs. If possible, find a budgeting mentor – someone who’s been through the process before and is now finding budgeting success.
Set goals for your budget
What do you want to get out of your budget? Sure, you want to spend less than you make every month, but there’s more to it than that. In the Credit.com blog, A.J. Smith says you need to have a long-term goal for your budget, something to shoot for and reward yourself with. Maybe it’s a vacation or a class you want to take. Without a goal, budgeting can turn into daily drudgery, like doing the laundry or washing the dishes.
Avoid spending triggers
If you were on a diet, you’d be careful to stay out of restaurants that encourage you to eat lots of unhealthy food. As Meredith Bisiker points out, the same holds for budgeting. Make things easier on yourself by avoiding stores and situations where you’ll be tempted to spend more than you should. That might mean avoiding promotional emails, sales, blogs, Amazon, even social media – whatever makes you want to spend money.
Leave some breathing room in your budget
More budgets are probably wrecked by unplanned expenses than by any other cause. One way to keep surprise bills from sinking your budget, A.J. Smith says, is to start padding your budget with some savings every month. That way, you’re more likely to have a rainy day fund ready when a budget-busting bill strikes.
We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a good budget. It may take months to work out a realistic plan that reflects your financial situation. Until that happens, don’t let temporary setbacks force you to give up. Be persistent and you’ll be closer to your financial goals.