Agreeing to make a budget is easy enough, but what about when it comes to sticking to the plan you made? It’s one area where unfortunately many falter, especially if they make the plan as part of their New Year’s resolutions. Excitement sets in, but once the reality of it comes into play, it’s easy to let that plan fall by the wayside and before you know it a whole year has passed and you’re in the same position as last.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s possible to make and stick to a budget as long as you come up with something that works for you. Making a tailored plan exactly to what suits your needs is the key to making all your hard work pay off.
Coming up with a budget and actually sticking to it in the long term may seem like a nearly impossible task, but if you really want to change your financial health this year for the better, it’s an absolute must. So how do you achieve this task with as little stress and strain as possible? It’s surprisingly easy, and once you get started, you’ll be able to follow the plan all year long.
Be Brutally Honest with Yourself
You can’t start on the path of financial health if you don’t know where you currently stand. It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself, so I suggest sitting down with a pencil and paper and making a list of every debt you owe and all of your expenses per month.
It’s easy to ignore the facts and figures and push them aside, but when you see everything in front of you, that’s when you have to face the truth. It’s time to face your mistakes and errors if you want to improve things. You are not your mistakes, so while you can accept fault, wallowing in your errors isn’t going to help you fix them.
Cut the Excess, Not the Fun
Making cutbacks is where you’re probably going to have the most difficulty. I can tell you that it’s not easy at all to cut out your beloved extras every week, and you will probably find a million excuses as to why you can’t make one cutback or another. However, what I can promise is that it’s absolutely worth it and you quickly get used to the new adjustments.
Here are some cutbacks you may want to consider cutting from your budget:
- Going out to dinner – Think having friends over and cooking and drinking at home is boring? Far from it! Not only can you make your food however you want, but it’s also much cheaper; you don’t have to tip anyone and you won’t have to shell out almost $50 on a bottle of wine you can pick up yourself for less than $20.
- Manicures and pedicures – As someone who used to love her manis and pedis, I had to resist pressing my face against the glass when I walked past the place after I gave them up. However, after I started doing them myself, I realized I didn’t miss them as much as I thought and my money was better used elsewhere.
- Brand name food – There are a couple of brand name food items I still purchase, but for the most part, I go for the generic. They cost a lot less and in most cases taste the same or better than their brand name counterparts.
- Promo Codes – One way to help with your budgeting needs is promo codes which have coupons for a variety of things from airline tickets to groceries.
- Bring your own – Sure it’s tempting to stop off at your local coffee place and pick up a Venti or run down the block for a sub at lunchtime, but that’s also extra money out of your pocket. Start bringing it from home and you’d be surprised how much you can save.
- Brand new clothes – Instead of getting new clothes right off the rack, try thrift store shopping. It might seem strange at first, but you can get severely discounted clothes – especially brand names – for much less than what you would have paid in the store.
Set a Monthly Plan
Once you know what you owe, what you have to pay and what cutbacks to make, you can finally make your monthly plan. Set up a spending journal and record every single dollar you spend and go over it at the end of every month.
Next up are the necessities. Write down what you have to pay for bills such as rent, utilities and credit cards. Consider getting discount personal checks and at the beginning of every month, write out all your necessary bills and send them out immediately so they’re taken care of and you don’t have to worry about getting them in late or running out of cash the rest of the month. When you’re writing out checks to pay your debts, make sure to always pay more than the minimum and interest combined.
Following these steps can help you have the financial health you’ve always dreamed of. It’s important to stick to your budget, but if you have the occasional minor setback or two, don’t beat yourself up over it and give up. Keep going and before long, you’ll be impressed just how far you’ve come.
About the Author:
Melissa Cameron has been a freelance writer for several years and values her clients as well as the opportunity to do what she loves for a living. She enjoys doing research for work, especially when it comes to learning interesting information and passing it on to her readers. While browsing through the site http://www.buychecksbymail.com/, Melissa was inspired to do a series of articles about how to make paying bills a little more fun and festive.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who need some encouragement on the budget.