Budgeting is an important tool for managing your finances. However, it may become an uphill task keeping up with your budget when you are getting started. In most cases, people abandon the budgeting process midway when they are already doing too well. For others, they just go nuts every time they go shopping or to their favorite restaurants for a simple meal. Being broke even before mid-month isn’t funny anymore because you have to pay bills and still save money. Here are exciting tips to help you stick to your budget and save money:
1. Start small
It is easy to get overwhelmed when you start learning how to budget, but that should not scare you. Instead of trying to achieve everything at once, start focusing on small things first as you adjust to living within your budget. Doing so much at the same is setting yourself for failure.
If you are used to buying fancy coffee at Starbucks, start brewing coffee at home twice a week and move to four times. That way, you will gradually move from buying coffee to making coffee at home and remain with extra cash.
2. Define your Budget goals
Defining your personal goals makes it easier to work towards achieving them. Whether you are planning to take your family on holiday, buying a home or paying your student loans, outlining your goals will help you stick to your budget more easily. The budget should reflect these goals and how you plan to achieve them. For example, if you are planning to pay all your debts, look for ways to cut down on your spending and set a time frame for achieving this goal.
If you have a partner, it will be easier to achieve the goal if you share the same vision. Set some time to discuss your individual goals and work toward them as a team.
3. Track Everything you Buy
I agree that the little purchases we make every day don’t seem like a big deal, but they will dent your budget. Writing down your daily expenses will help you pinpoint the expenses that take a huge chunk of the budget. Take a notepad and write each expense according to its category such as groceries, clothing, hospital expenses, etc.
Alternatively, use smartphone apps like Mint and Pennies to track your spending in real time. These apps will help keep track of every penny and keep up with your daily expenses. Take a few minutes every day to review your finances and get an idea of how you are keeping up with your budget. It may seem tedious initially, but the results will be eye-opening, and you will be able to identify the cracks where your money has been sipping through. You are likely to make mistakes once in a while but sticking to the main goal will pay off eventually.
4. Stick to your Budget list
Going shopping without a shopping list is planning for financial failure. Prepare a shopping list and include all the items you plan to buy and the cost of each item. Also, carry enough cash to pay for all the items and include a small allowance to cater for price increases. Sticking to the shopping list will help you cut on unnecessary spending on things that you do not need.
If you have an over-shopping habit and have a hard time sticking to the shopping list, let a non-shopaholic shopping buddy accompany you and let them carry the shopping list. Make sure that the friend understands your overspending habit and the need to stick to the shopping list.
5. Leave your credit card at home
Credit cards make it easy to overspend since you can’t see the amount of money that you are spending every day. Most people use credit cards to pay for small expenses such as coffee, lunch dates, and flowers, which only serve to hurt their budget and increase debts.
Leaving your credit card behind will help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. This will help spare money for necessary purchases. If leaving the credit cards at home is a problem, you can as well drop them entirely.
6. Stop Wastage
If you are struggling to save money, you should check on the amount of money lost to wastage. Leaving lights on, throwing foods, leaving taps running and disposing of unfinished toothpaste tubes all amount to wastage. As a rule, you should use everything to the last thing you purchase. By switching off lights when not in use and turning off running water, you will reduce the utility bills and save the money for another occasion.
7. Prepare Foods and Beverages at Home
If the restaurant is the main reason you are can’t stick to your budget, start preparing meals at home and only go to the restaurant when it is absolutely necessary. Start by taking breakfast at home and carrying packed lunch when going for work. During meetups with friends, prepare meals locally instead of swapping your credit card at the restaurant.
When it comes to beverages, start brewing coffee at home instead of getting the totally overpriced ready-made coffee. Instead of buying water all the time, carry water from home using a reusable water bottle when going to work.
8. Prepare household supplies at home
Do you know that you can save money by making household supplies? Making cleaners and detergents at home can create some room in your budget for other well-thought out purchases. If you consider the amount of money spent on cleaners, you can save a sizable percentage of your budget.
9. Resist Retailers Advertisements
Retailers always come up with tricks to make you spend money on things that you had not included in the budget. These tricks come in the form of reward cards, flash sales, discounts and free holidays to customers. With the growth of online shopping, retailers have come up with even more convincing techniques to entice customers.
By understanding these tricks, you can devise ways to resist the offers and stick to your budget. Start by destroying catalogs and reducing the amount of time spent on online shopping sites, and you will discover the large sums of money that you could have saved if you resisted the offers.
If your budget is the problem, redesign it so that you are in control of your spending. Having a budget that works will help you cut on unnecessary expenses and focus on your long-term goals. Start by implementing small things first, and you will identify the bad buying habits that are taking a huge chunk of your budget. You are likely to make mistakes, but you should focus on sticking to your budget and saving money.