A lot of people think that money is a horrible thing. Money is the root of all evil is a common phrase. Marriages are destroyed because of money, or lack of it. I don’t feel this way. I love money. And what I mean by that is not that I love spending money (although I do), I love that with money, I have the ability to help others. I believe that the root of money problems is not that people have it or don’t, it’s that people don’t know what to do with the money they have. They don’t know how to budget, or don’t have the self control to stick to their budget. Budgets are important whether your family makes a million dollars a year or a few thousand. Stick to a budget. Here are some of my tips for sticking to a budget:
Be on the same page as your spouse/family
I think this one is the most important. If you are anything but single and living alone, you need to get everyone on the same page. There is no point in your budgeting if your significant other is going to be spending money like crazy.
Keep your budget in a visible place
Look at it often. Don’t just make it and forget it. Use an app on your phone (I’m currently testing a few to find one that I like). If you don’t have a smart phone, write it on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere you look at often. Do assessments on how you are doing and don’t be afraid to change your strategy if it’s not working.
When you are making the budget, don’t make unrealistic goals. You can’t say you are going to spend less than $100/month on gas if you have to drive to work every day. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make goals that will be hard, just make sure they are realistic.
Get rid of temptation
If you know that you have a weakness for credit cards, get rid of them. I put mine in a block of ice in a freezer. If you have a weakness for garage sales, don’t go to them. If you find yourself going somewhere you know you might spend money, don’t take your wallet, or take your debit/credit cards out of them before hand.
This is hard. It’s a little inconvenient, but it works. I don’t always do this, but when I do, I notice a HUGE difference in the amount of money I spend. The problem with this is that I do a lot of internet shopping, which saves me both time and money, so I can’t do a strictly cash budget.
Make a savings goal
Don’t budget just for the sake of budgeting. Have a goal in mind. It could be having your credit cards paid off. It could be saving for a house or car. It could be something as simple as a new shirt. Keep your goal in mind as you are saying “no” to purchases you used to buy. Put pictures of it on your phone, your mirror, anywhere that you can see it and remember why you are budgeting.
You can’t buy happiness
Many people go off of their budgets because they get depressed and assume that some item or food or vacation will make them happy. You can buy fun, but that’s not the same thing as happiness. Happiness comes from making goals and sticking to them. Happiness comes from always striving to be a better person. It comes from loving your situation, even if it isn’t what you had imagined your life would be like. Remember before you pull out that plastic, that what you want now is not necessarily what you want in the long run. Keeping your end goal in mind will make sticking to a budget much easier.
Those are some of the tips I use to stick to my budget. I’ll be the first to admit that it is NOT easy. But, when I do stick to a budget, I notice how much more smoothly everything runs. It gives me one less thing to worry about when I know where our money is going. And, like I said in the intro, it gives my family the ability to help others in need, which is one way that money can truly buy happiness.
Check out other money saving articles here.