Are you looking for realistic budgeting tips to stick to your budget?
Look no further!
One of the hardest struggles of money management is being able to stick to a budget.
It doesn’t matter how robust your excel sheet may be or how colorful your budgeting app is, if you don’t have the discipline it won’t work.
But instead of getting discouraged and giving up on budgeting altogether, why not try some tricks that will help?
In this post, I share five practical tips that you can leverage that will help your stick to your budget.
Beginner Budgeting Tips to Stick to Your Budget
1. CARRY CASH
The first budgeting tip that’ll I’ll share is to carry cash.
Although debit cards have made shopping much easier and more convenient, they can also be bad for budgets.
The problem with debit cards is that you can continue swiping with no thought of your budget or if you even have the funds.
Carrying cash gives you a sobering reality check. Unlike the debit card, once you run out of cash, you can’t keep spending.
In fact, I’d venture to say that cash would deter you from spending simply because most people don’t like breaking bills. There is something about having cash in your wallet that makes you want to keep it there.
Leveraging cash with your budget is quite simple. In fact, it’s probably how your grandparents manage their money.
CASH ENVELOPE SYSTEM
The simple technique of the cash envelope system is where you take out the exact budgeted amount that you have for your expenses in cash and separate it into envelopes.
For example, if you have $150 budgeted for groceries, $50 for gas, and $30 for dining out, you’d have three different envelopes labeled groceries, gas, and dining out.
Each envelope would hold the exact amount of money that you’ve budgeted for that specific category.
Once you’ve spent all the money on that particular envelope, your spending spree is over until the next budgeting period.
This is a great way to put physical boundaries around your spending.
If you prefer the digital approach, I suggest checking out Qube Money. They have an amazing digital cash envelope system.
2. MAKE YOUR BUDGET EASILY ACCESSIBLE
Chances are, you haven’t committed your budget to memory. If you have, bravo!
With there being so many budgeting categories that you can have, it’s almost impossible to know what you’ve set aside for any particular item. That’s why having a budget that’s easily accessible is important.
Though I personally don’t use a written budget, some people find budgeting notebooks to be helpful. They write out what their budget is for the month and keep track of their spending as they go.
Obviously, the con of this is that carrying around a budget binder can get cumbersome. That’s why I recommend digital options for creating and maintaining your budget.
Even if you create a budget in Excel, you can use the Dropbox or Google Drive app to view and edit it on the go.
Another option is to leverage actual budgeting apps like Qube Money. This is an app that allows you to manage your budget easily.
3. INCLUDE FUN IN YOUR BUDGET
The last-minute dinner outings and lunch with friends can really hurt your budget. That’s why you should always set some funds aside for fun.
Having money available “just in case” is the best way to avoid going over your budget. If you plan for it in advance, you don’t have to worry about having to use money that was allocated for something else.
What’s even better is that you won’t have to use your credit card to fund your adventures either.
Try setting aside $30 or more every time you budget to cover those outings and unexpected events that come up. If you know in advance, be sure to include it in your budget.
Sinking funds are a great tool to leverage to put money aside for this kind of spending.
KEEP YOUR CALENDAR HANDY
When you’re creating your budget, it’s also important that you keep your calendar handy to know what events are coming up.
If there’s a birthday, wedding, or event happening during your budgeting period, account for it in advance.
Set aside funds to cover the gifts or items that you’ll need for it. When you do this in advance, you won’t have to worry about not having the funds and going over your budget.
A monthly bill calendar will also come in handy when you are tracking what bills are due when.
4. BE REALISTIC
Oftentimes, the main culprit for not being able to stick to a budget is creating an unrealistic one. You’re setting yourself up for failure when you budget well below your historical spending levels.
For instance, only allocating $50 for dining out when you’ve consistently spent $150 per month in the last year is a recipe for failure. Although your intentions are good, they’re not realistic.
When creating your budget, it’s important that you take into account your historical habits. A great way to gauge what’s realistic is to average your spending across each category over the previous three months.
If you realize that you’re spending too much, then reduce the number slightly. This helps to reduce your spending, while also not creating a budget that’s unrealistic to stick to.
5. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND
Emergencies can definitely blow your budget out of whack. That’s why you should plan for them.
Building an emergency fund allows you to have money set aside in case something unexpected happens.
It allows you to pay for things like a new tire or quick car repair or medical emergency without having to rely on debt.
An emergency can be a tremendous wrench in your budget if you’re not prepared.
As a rule of thumb, you should have at least $1,000 in a high yield savings account, to begin with. After you’ve paid off debt and have increased your cash flow, you should build up the equivalent of 6-12 months of your expenses in savings.
Final Budgeting Tips
It’s important to remember that a budget is a tool and not a trap! That means it’s meant to help you as you work toward your financial goals.
If you’re new to budgeting, don’t forget to grab a copy of my FREE monthly budgeting template.
It’ll help you plan out your money for the month so that you can reach your financial goals.