Let’s be honest, when it comes to budgeting, the easiest part is creating one. The hardest? It’s learning how to stick to a budget….
Have you created a budget in the past but then forget about it or simply didn’t follow through?
It’s totally understandable. It’s kind of like a to-do list. You make it, forget about it, or get overwhelmed by the number of to-dos on it!
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not historically good with either. Nobody is perfect and everyone has created a to-do list they haven’t completed.
If you are reading this, I’m guessing you’ve created budgets in the past but have struggled a little to stick to it.
How To Stick To Your budget
The following are three simple steps that will help you stick to your budget.
Yes, you only need to follow three steps to successfully stick to your budget. The steps are easy and straightforward.
As simple as the steps are, when it comes to following through, that’s 100% up to you.
I know you can stick to your budget because so many people do it every day. Thousands of people are breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle and becoming debt-free. Let that be your inspiration to follow through!
Let’s get started.
step #1 – get organized
Step #1 is to get organized.
Like everything else in life, good things usually take some effort. They require you to make a commitment. So in order to stick to your budget, you will need to put in the time and get organized.
If you are not great at being organized, learn to be for your budget! You don’t need a complicated or fancy organizational system. To get organized, complete the following:
- Clearly outline your budget. Your budget is usually not just one amount. It’s broken into categories and each category has a specific dollar amount. Make sure you are clear on what that number is.
As you can see from the above, I know exactly what my weekly budget is for each of my categories.
I have a “12 Week Budget” column because that’s my budgeting period. For categories like; Personal Care, Home/Laundry, and Clothes/Makeup. I try to shop for the entire 12 weeks (or 3 months) in one shopping trip.
This reduces how many times I have to go to the store and helps me stick to my budget.
- Make it accessible. I created my budget using Google Sheets and added the file to my google drive. I added the file to google drive so that I could also access it via my phone using the google drive app. On my computer, I bookmarked the google sheet file so that I can easily access it.
You don’t have to complete these tasks every week. So don’t think this will take you a lot of time. I created this budget about 6 months ago and I haven’t changed it since.
That being said, if your income changes, you’ll need to make some adjustments to make sure you are still saving money 🙂
Tip – if you get a raise at work or make more money during any given month. Spend 20% and save 80%. Don’t spend every extra dollar you make.
step #2 – plan
Step #2 is to plan, plan, and plan!
I can’t stress enough how important planning is.
The purpose of planning is to help you understand how much you should expect to spend when you go to the store.
So what’s the best way to plan? How exactly do you plan?
The best way to plan is simple, use paper and pen. Before you go shopping create a list of what you need (be realistic) to buy and add the price next to it.
From here, you can see if your total is within your budget or going over. If your total is going to make you go over your budget, try the following:
- Replace the item with a cheaper alternative.
- Wait to buy it during your next budgeting period.
- Find coupons.
- Is it cheaper in a different store?
- Can you live without it? If yes, take it out!
If you are in a rush and didn’t get a chance to plan. Review your budgeting spreadsheet or whatever you use to keep track of your budget so you’re clear on how much you have left.
This is where making your spreadsheet accessible comes in handy. You can access Google Sheets on your phone so it’s really convenient.
Nobody is perfect but do your best to plan for 99% of your shopping trips. If you plan, you don’t have to go to the store unprepared to make last-minute purchases.
I like making lists and getting organized but if that doesn’t come easy to you, make it fun.
- Choose a specific day of the week as your “planning day”.
- Make your planning days fun by playing music and giving yourself a treat. Your favorite coffee, wine, dessert, or snack.
Whatever encourages you to get started!
step #3 – track
Okay, so you’ll get organized, choose a “planning day”, what comes next?
Step #3, the final step, is to track your expenses.
You will want to track your spending to make sure you are staying within your budget. If you plan that’s great and a very important step but to get an idea of the big picture and never lose track of where you are, you will need to keep a running total of your expenses.
For example, in my budgeting spreadsheet, I have a section where I enter every purchase and it sums the total by category. This helps me understand how I’m doing, and most importantly, how much money I have left for my budgeting period.
Choose a budgeting period that works best for you. Mine covers 12 weeks or 3 months because I try to minimize the number of shopping trips I have to make.
This also helps me “spread out” my money and it’s worked out really well for me.
Also, if I see that I’m close to going over in one category and low in another, that’s okay. As long as your total budget is within your dollar goal.
Take the time to track what you actually spend at least once a week. If you only shop once a week that will be easy but most of us make several purchases each week. Make it a habit to track 2-3 times a week or at the end of every day.
How To Stick To Your Budget Summary
I’m confident that if you follow these 3 simple steps, you will stick to your budget.
#1. get organized
Take the time to set a clear budget and make your budget visible and accessible.
Plan your shopping trips before you take them. Know how much will spend before you actually spend.
Keep track of your purchases to be clear on your running total.
Remember that the only thing stopping you from sticking to your budget is you and only YOU. You decided what you spend your money on AND how much money you spend.
Get organized, plan, and track!
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”-Henry ford