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Learning how to stick to whatever budget you set is one of the most important parts of budgeting. After all, why create a budget in the first place if you’re not going to follow it? Here’s how to stick to a budget. 🙂
(Psst.. If you don’t already have a budget decided, check out our blog post on the lazy girl’s guide to budgeting and accounting!)
How to Stick to a Budget
Ok, the first step in just about any undertaking in life is to decide WHY you want to do it. Without a compelling why for any major decision in life, it’s easy to get sidetracked or give up or think that it won’t really matter if you slip up just this one time.
So if you don’t already know why you’re trying to stick to a budget, I want you to think about it and come up with a reason why that’s stronger than any excuses you can come up with. That way, if you’re tempted to overspend or buy something on an impulse, you’ll think back to your reason why (like getting out of debt, paying for college, quitting your job, starting a business, etc) and realize that the satisfaction of accomplishing your bigger goal is actually a lot more worthwhile than getting the new iPhone the day it comes out. 😉
Ok, so you have a defined monthly budget and you know why you’re trying to save money. Now all you have to do is avoid temptation! I actually find it helpful to include a “miscellaneous” section in my budget to account for fun spending so I don’t feel like I’m totally depriving myself even if I’m sticking to a budget. If you don’t allow for at least a small budget for things like entertainment, clothes, shopping, etc, then you’re more likely to give up and blow your whole budget when you get tired of being frugal all the time.
Your “fun money” should be no more than 10-20% of your total budget, and yes, this would include entertainment like Netflix or going to the movies, buying pretty pillows from Target to decorate your home, etc. Basically anything that is not a required expense would go in this category.
Ok, so you have a little room for non-required spending. You might come across a lot of neat things throughout the month that you’re tempted to spend money on, but you have to think about how much you really want it compared to how much of your fun spending it would take up. If you get tickets to a concert at the beginning of the month, that might use up your whole fun budget and then you have to actually stick to your guns and not spend any more discretionary income for the rest of the month.
It won’t be easy, so this is when you need to think back to your why. Also it’s easier if you make several small fun purchases throughout the month and space it out (unless you save up for a certain big item like a new phone).
Well, that’s it! What are your tips for how to stick to a budget? 🙂
The Mindset Shift You Need to Actually Stick to Your Budget
There’s one little change in the way you think about things that can totally transform your finances. Here’s the mindset shift you need to actually stick to your budget.
Here it is:
Sound simple? Maybe in theory, but in practice it’s a little harder. 😃 Basically instead of buying things whenever you want them or making impulse purchases that you might later regret, you practice delaying gratification in buying new things.
If something is a non-essential, I’d recommend waiting at least a day before buying it, because odds are you won’t even remember that you still wanted it a day later. For bigger purchases (could be $50 or $100 or over.. you determine the price point), I’d recommend implementing a 30 day rule for waiting until you buy it.
I often put things on my Amazon wish list or my to do list when I want something in the moment and then a few weeks later I’ve completely forgotten about it and no longer want it. That ends up saving you a lot of money. Sometimes I’ll have something on my list for a few months before I make a decision about whether or not I want to purchase it if it’s just a “fun” item.
For example, right now on my Amazon wish list I have random things ranging from a memory foam mattress topper to an essential oils kit and a cat t-shirt. None of these things are things that I absolutely have to have, and although they could go in my “miscellaneous” budget for the month, I still like to avoid making impulse purchases by waiting it out.
A lot of times we just want something in the moment but if we give it a little time, we realize we actually can live without the shiny new thing. 😃 And sometimes, you’ll realize you really do want it!