| April 9, 2013

Tips to help you stick to your budget

The value of creating and sticking to a realistic budgeting plan cannot be overstated, but adhering to spending guidelines and making drastic cuts can be easier said than done for many people. Simple budgeting mistakes, underestimating expenses and spending temptations can all impact a person’s ability to follow a money management plan, but there are several tips individuals can follow to help them change harmful financial behaviors.

For example, placing the budget in a place that is visible can help consumers both stay on target when they are tempted to spend and help them avoid late balances, according to Yahoo Finance. Individuals might consider posting the budget on the refrigerator, next to their computer to help them avoid making unnecessary online purchases or even in a purse or wallet for when they go shopping. Placing payment dates next to bills – such as mortgage or rent, heat and electricity, cellphone accounts and credit cards – can also serve as a reminder to pay them before they are due and avoid incurring late fees and penalties. 

Consumers can also save money and avoid breaking their spending plan by relying more heavily on cash, rather than credit and debit, according to MSN Money. Many people are in a better position to avoid overspending when they see the money physically leaving their wallet, versus leaving an account. Impulse purchases and discretionary spending are common contributors to a ruined budget, so changing payment habits may help lower the incidence of these types of activities. 

A budget should be liberating, not constraining

One of the core problems that makes it difficult for many people to adhere to a budget is their mindset about money management. A spending plan should not be thought of as a rigid set of rules designed to make life more challenging. Instead, it’s helping consumes reach their goals – such as saving for a down payment, eliminating credit card debt or putting money aside for a family vacation – and put themselves in a better financial position. Therefore, it’s important for individuals to not only change the way they think about budgeting, but to also leave a little bit of room for discretionary purchases. While consumers shouldn’t carve out a quarter of their budget for eating out or other activities, setting aside a small portion to do something fun every once in awhile can ensure they are balancing responsibility with fun, while still working toward their goals.

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