Whether you’re trying to get out of debt or save up for your dream vacation, a budget can help you reach your financial goals more quickly. But creating and sticking to a budget is downright painful for many people. So how can you do it without wanting to throw in the towel after just a few months?
Get on the road to budgeting success by checking out 10 tips on how to budget effectively.
1. Get the Family Involved
The first step into really embracing a budget is getting the whole family on board. Sit down with your spouse or partner to discuss the framework of the budget. If you have children you can even involve them in weekly family budget meetings. Make it fun by bringing treats and letting everyone weigh in. When everyone is clued in on family finances, you’ll have an easier time sticking to the budget.
2. Track All Expenses
When it comes to budgeting, no expense is too small to track. If your budget doesn’t include little purchases like a drive-through lunch, or a quick visit to the corner store, those hidden expenses will quickly pile up and throw off your whole system. Get in the habit of tracking everything you buy, even if it’s just a few dollars.
3. Focus on Essentials First
Planning your budget from scratch can feel really overwhelming, especially if you’re thinking about everything from your house payment to your travel fund all at once. Simplify the process by focusing on essentials first. Budget for big, set expenses like rent/mortgage, car payment, and groceries before you factor in categories like travel money and entertainment. And remember, whether you’re renting a home or apartment in an expensive city like Chicago or a more affordable city like Milwaukee, you need to have a detailed budget set to ensure you can afford your current lifestyle.
4. Plan For Future Expenses
Wondering how to set a budget when every month has something new popping up to throw you off track? Avoid throwing in the towel by planning for those expenses in advance. For example, you’ll probably be spending more money during Christmas time, so your budget should include a category for gifts in December.
5. Check In Every Week
No matter how much you think you’re sticking to your budget, you shouldn’t leave it up to chance. Check in on how you’re doing at least once a week. This will help you gauge your progress and give you a heads up so you can slow down on your spending before you blow your whole budget.
6. Use a Budgeting Tool
From apps to spreadsheets, there are tons of budgeting tools out there that will make it easier to track expenses, set goals, and monitor progress. Everyone has their own budgeting style, so do some research to find the best option that works for you—then stick with it!
7. Set Goals
You’ll have a hard time following a budget if you don’t have clear cut goals about what you’re trying to achieve. Are you paying down debt? Saving up for a down payment on a house? Planning a wedding? Set specific goals and keep them in mind as you create your budget.
8. Create a Rewards System
Budgeting can quickly become a tedious chore for many people. But you’re more likely to stay invested if you create a rewards system. Some rewards are inherent: if you reach your travel savings goal, you get to go on a fun trip. But other rewards might need to be created: if you don’t eat out all week, you’ll treat yourself to a pint of ice cream at the grocery store.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust
Most budgets aren’t perfect from the moment you create them. Keep tabs on your typical spending habits and don’t be afraid to adjust the budget as needed. And if you start making more or less money or have sudden new expenses, you’ll obviously want to change your budget to reflect those changes, too.
10. Go Easy On Yourself (But Not Too Easy!)
The most successful budgeters are those who know to give themselves grace when they slip up, but they aren’t so lax that they never meet their financial goals. Aim to strike this careful balance of diligence and patience with yourself.
Get a Free Debt Assessment Today
Now that you know how to budget more effectively, you may be even more eager to get out of debt quickly. CreditAnswers offers an incredible solution that can help you pay a fraction of what you owe and get rid of debt in just 24-36 months. Get in touch for a free debt assessment today.