A few months ago I asked people on Instagram what they struggle with most when it comes to budgeting and saving money. An overwhelming amount of people said that they struggle with actually sticking to their budget each month. I know firsthand that self-discipline is easy in theory, but can be extremely difficult in real life. So that’s why I’m here with 6 ways to stick to your budget. These are tricks that our family still use daily to help us stay on track, spend less, and save more!
1. Stay out of the stores.
This one is huge! Go to the store as little as possible and for goodness sake, don’t go to Target just to “look around.” This extends to grocery shopping as well! Try and only head to the grocery store once a week so that you don’t have multiple opportunities to spend money that you hadn’t planned on spending. You could even consider ordering your groceries online so that you don’t impulse shop while you’re there. To learn more tips about saving money at the grocery store, read 22 Ways To Save Money On Groceries. Overall, you’ll spend less and stick to your budget if you are literally not in a place to spend money. So head to the park and take a walk when you get the urge to window shop. Your wallet will thank you.
2. Check your calendar before you make the budget.
Are there any celebrations, birthdays, school parties, or social outings that you will be attending? Plan for them in advance and budget for them so you don’t blow your budget! I cannot tell you how many times I have had something “unexpected” come up and I felt like my entire month was off track. Then I had the “who cares” attitude and figured I’d try again next month. If I’m being completely honest, those events were not unexpected at all. Instead, I was just too lazy to actually set aside time to anticipate events and check my calendar for the next few weeks. Your budget doesn’t have to be completely thrown off track just because your kids had a birthday party to attend or your friend wants to go out for drinks. And that brings me to the next tip!
3. Revisit your budget often.
Life isn’t perfect and you cannot anticipate every expense that will arise. That’s why it’s so important to revisit your budget and make changes as needed throughout the month! If you still have 2 weeks until you get paid, sit down and make a mini-budget where you plan out all the rest of your expenses. You can rebuild your budget when something unexpected happens. Does it take time? Yes! Is it worth it? You bet! Not only will revisiting your budget help you stay on track, but it might even encourage you to keep spending less than you make. You get to choose how often you revisit your budget, But I recommend you do this at least once in between your paychecks!
4. Keep your goals visible.
Keep your goals visible and refer back to them often. If you want to be debt free, make your debt free thermometer and keep it in a place you pass often. Make a point to think about and talk about your goals as much as possible. During our debt free journey, my husband and I kept a thermometer in our closet that we would shade every few months until we were debt free. It was a physical reminder that we looked at every single day that helped us focus on not only where we were, but where we were going. If you want to print your very own thermometer for FREE, then sign up for my Budgeting Basics Email Course!
5. Track your spending every day.
If you want to be extremely knowledgeable about a topic, you’ll make a point to learn more about that topic every day. For instance, if you want to lose weight, you’ll track your calories or macronutrients daily to help ensure that you are consuming less than you are using. You will make sure that you are setting yourself up for success by eating foods that are healthy and working out several times a week. Well, if you want to stick to your budget, you also have to do some tracking so that you know where your money is going! Tracking your spending every day forces you to face your financial truth and really take a long look at your habits. Where are you spending the most money? What are you purchasing that you didn’t budget for? Can you add that to your budget next month to help ensure that you stay on track?
We track every single penny that we spend or receive as income. At any moment my husband and I can look to see how much money we have in our name (even if it includes a bill that will be auto-drafted 3 days from now). To learn the exact way that we track our money, read How To Easily Track Your Spending.
And just for fun, I highly recommend Our Top 3 Money Mistakes. We made them so you don’t have to!
6. Find yourself a budget buddy.
It is so important to have an accountability buddy when you are really trying to stick to a budget for the first (or fifth!) time. Your budget buddy can be a spouse, friend, family member, or even the debt free community on Instagram! When you feel like giving up, or you need guidance, turn to your budget buddy for help and encouragement! When you want to celebrate that you walked through Target and didn’t make an impulse purchase, call or text your friend and let them know! Having someone to walk with on this journey can make saving money and paying off debt so much easier!
To get the budget pictured at the top, shop my Etsy store! You can buy an entire Budget Binder Bundle that you can print as much as you need for under $10!