I read it all the time: “I hate budgeting”. “Budgeting is hard.” “Budgeting is boring.” Blahhhh
Do you want to know the real problem with living on a budget is? It’s the way we perceive them.
Handling your finances is not a chore you can loathe like doing laundry or the dishes. Think of it more like a healthy diet. A budget is something that if you don’t make it a part of your lifestyle, the problem with your finances will just build, build, and build until you’ve got one ugly money mess on your hands.
That’s not what I want for you. You’re beautiful and better than that. You work too hard for your money and deserve to hang on to as much of it as you can. Perhaps instead of being TOLD what to do, you just need someone to show you HOW to do it. So with that, here are my tips for successful budget techniques.
My Tips for Successfully Living on a Budget:
- Make a commitment. Write down your goals and stick to them. No questions asked!
- Never carry a credit card balance. The interest rate will DESTROY you.
- Be conscious of where your money is coming from. You need more money in than out for your budget to actually work.
- And also know where your money is going. Write down and track your expenses. Even though it may sound old school, put in a personal checks order so that you write a physical check and log it every time you do. You might be surprised at all the dumb stuff you buy in a month.
- Use the envelope system. If you have a hard time tracking your money, just simply use cash. That way when it’s gone, it’s gone. And you’ll be far more conscious of where it went to. You don’t have to limit yourself to just paper bills. You can also use coin counters to keep track of all that loose change as well.
- Plan ahead for the Holidays. You know you’re going to spend a lot. So start saving up little by little each month.
- Treat your special goal like a bill. If buying a house or saving for retirement is important to you, then pretend like it’s a payment you HAVE to make and do so every month.
- Encourage reducing your bad habits. Everyone enjoys a drink or a trip to the casino. But don’t make it a habit.
- Make a list of things you actually need. Stop buying what you want and write down the things you actually need. Food, clothes, household goods, etc.
- Avoid “shopping” as a hobby. Going to the mall is not a sport.
- Love water. Restaurants love to overcharge you for pop and alcohol when you’re out at the restaurant. Water is free. Which one do you think your budget will love.
- Eat better. Eating better is not only good for your health, but it also helps you maintain portion control. Translation = you’ll eat less food.
- Maintain your vehicle. Would you rather spend thousands of dollars for a repair to your engine or $40 for an oil change? Your budget thanks you.
- Use more free software from the Internet. Pretty much anything you need on your computer has a free or trail version. Don’t spend more for software than you have to.
- Shop around. Make sure you check the price from at least 3 places before you actually buy something.
- Cook enough food for tomorrow. Want to make dinner less often? Make extra dinner tonight and you’ll have a quick meal the next day.
- Read more often. It’s a great hobby. You’ll learn something. And most books are free if you get them from the library.
- Pack a lunch. Keep your budget in check by making it so that you don’t waste money going out to eat.
- Buy in bulk. Everything is cheaper in bulk.
- Consider used. Ebay, Craigs List, and garage sales are a great way to find household items for a fraction of the cost.
- Seize the opportunity when you see a sale. You may not need it today. But if you know you will, and it’s 80% today, then go for it!
- Get handy. When you can fix things around the house yourself, you will save a boat load of money. Plus you’ll be The MAN!
- Find things to do together for free. There’s a lot of them – walks, picnics, fairs, etc.
- Don’t give up. Just like a good diet or weight lifting program, it takes time and discipline to get it right. It’s something you’ll have to work at every day.
- Don’t stress. Unforeseen blows to your budget will happen. That’s life. And that’s also why you need to have an emergency fund.
- Pace yourself. It’s okay to go out and have some fun. But set a limit to say once a week.
- Update your budget annually. When you’re living off a budget, your life and goals change year to year. Right around the New Year, review your income and expenses and look for changes you can all agree on.
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