Do you struggle to stay on budget each month? In my opinion, that's one of the most difficult parts of managing our money since it typically involves discipline and making some hard choices!
Here are some tips to help you stay on budget if you're struggling:
- Track Your Spending – If you're going to stay on budget, you need to know how much you've already spent and how much you have left to spend. We use Quicken to import information from our bank accounts. I assign each transaction a category, and then I can look at the reports to check our spending vs. the budgeted amount. If you have trouble working with larger numbers, split it
- Use a Cash-Only budget – If you're tempted to spend more money than you've budgeted, try switching to a Cash-Only Budget. You can only spend money until the cash runs out. There are no calculations needed, and you can't just whip out your debit or credit card to make the purchase anyway.
- Make a List – If you struggle to stay on budget when shopping for groceries, make a meal plan based on what you already have and then create a grocery list for the items you need. Be sure to stick to the list when you're at the store. Impulse buys can kill your budget!
- Learn to Say No – If you're going over budget on dining out, for example, because you have friends that ask you to join them for meals, you need to learn to tell them no if it's not in your budget. You could still hang out with your friends, but invite them over for dinner or meet them for coffee to help keep your budget on track.
- Readjust Budgeted Categories – If you are having a hard time staying on budget in a certain category no matter how much you try to save on purchases, you may need to increase your budgeted amount in that category (if it's an essential need like food). Of course, that means you'll have to reduce spending in another category to make your budget match your income to avoid going into debt or dipping into your savings.
What about you? What the hardest part of staying on a budget for you? How do you help yourself when you're struggling?