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Sticking to a Budget

It can be tough to create and stick to a budget. Not only can it be time consuming to sit down and come up with a budget (and then track your spending and make sure you’re following your plan) but, for many people, the whole process feels like a chore. If something is difficult or uninteresting, you’ll be a lot less likely to do it. The good news is budgeting doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. Here are some tips for how you can make budgeting not feel like a chore.

Set Goals

One reason budgeting often feels tiresome is because it can be tough to get motivated. It’s hard to do anything if you don’t have the right incentive to do it. However, a great way to inspire yourself to keep going is by setting goals for yourself.

If you’re dreaming of taking a trip, buying a car, or paying down your debt, set this goal for yourself. Work out how much you need to save each month to make it a reality and add this to your budget. If you have something to work towards, you’ll be a lot more likely to be engaged and follow your budget. Because there’s a reward at the end (achieving your goal) the process will feel less like a chore and more like an accomplishment.

Automate

One of the least interesting parts of budgeting is remembering to pay your bills on time. It can certainly feel like a chore to fill out a calendar of when your bills are due and then take the time to pay them every month. The good news is that, for many bills, you can automate this process. Talk to your creditors, your bank, and your service providers and find out how you can make regular payments automatically. It will take some time to set up these processes initially, but once you’re done you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

You can also automate transfers from your chequing account to your savings account. This can be very helpful if you trying to save a certain amount of money each month in hopes of achieving a goal. If you automatically move your money out of your main account and into savings, you won’t accidentally spend it and your savings will grow without you having to do anything.

Use Cash More Often

One aspect of budgeting that many people find tedious is tracking spending. However, keeping track of how much you spend is a vital part of staying on budget. One tip that can potentially make it easier to do this is to use cash more often and to leave your credit cards at home. This way, you may only need to lay everything out at the beginning of the month rather than having to keep a running total.

For instance, if you budgeted $800 a month for groceries, $400 for transportation, and $200 for entertainment, take these amounts out of your bank account at the beginning of the month. Then separate your cash into envelopes depending on how much you’ve budgeted for each category. When you go grocery shopping, for example, take some of the grocery money with you. If you make a plan to only spend the cash you have at the moment, it becomes a lot more difficult to overspend and easier to stick to your budget.

Make Adjustments

Budgets aren’t something that you set once and then never touch again. In fact, making a budget and then never adjusting it can result in a process that doesn’t match reality. For example, if you decide to budget a certain amount for groceries, but find that you’re routinely spending $50 more each month than you assumed, it makes sense to adjust your budget to account for this fact. To do so, you’ll need to reduce one or more other expenses by $50 (or more) so that everything balances.

Adjusting your budget to match reality also makes it less of a chore to follow. When your budget is realistic and matches your lifestyle, it becomes easier to stick to and living within your means becomes less stressful. If your budget is easier to follow, it’s less of a chore to keep on track and you’ll be much more likely to follow your financial plan.