The Best Tips for Sticking with Your Budget
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So you have a family budget. There's only one problem – you're having trouble sticking with your budget! Maybe your budget is nicely outlined and detailed, but yet it sits unused on your computer or in your desk drawer.
Or maybe you've started trying to use it but just can't seem to make it work.
Formulating a budget is a challenge, but once you have it done, it doesn't do any good unless you stick with it. Of course, sometimes you do need to compromise, and your budget does need to be somewhat flexible.
But you can periodically tweak and adjust your budget and still stick to it.
Here are some creative and even fun tips for sticking with your budget.
Maybe your budget didn't work out because it didn't fit your needs.
Take a fresh look at your budget and ask some of the following questions:
Is it too detailed?
You might find it exhausting trying to keep a budget that has dozens of categories. Don't over complicate things, keep them as simple as possible.
Is it too simple?
Yes, you want to keep things simple, but not too simple. If your budget is too general, you may have let it slide because there just weren't enough details to get a true grasp on your finances.
Does your budget include alternatives?
If your family is not the creative type, you may have had trouble coming up with alternatives to any budget cutbacks.
For instance, if your budget revealed that you needed to cut back on eating out, and you didn't have an alternative plan for what you were going to do instead of eating out, you might have slipped up and deviated from your budget.
For some people, this is natural; others need to write in alternatives.
Are you realistic about your income?
A budget may fail if your income section is more about goals and ideals than what's actually being earned. Even if you see an increase in income in your future, be realistic about what you're earning now. You can always alter your budget later on if need be.
Are there rewards?
A budget should have some rewards worked into it – a vacation, a movie out, or a new pair of shoes. Even an entertainment category if you can swing it. Setting a realistic budget means you'll be more likely to stick with it.
Include Fun Alternatives
As noted above, having alternatives to fill the void created by cutbacks is helpful to keeping your budget. Having creative and fun alternatives may be even more helpful.
Here are some ideas.
•Instead of eating lunch out, pack a fun lunch Bento-style. Or get together with a few friends and have everyone bring a side dish, then share.
•Lunch-in can be a fun picnic, indoor or outdoor. Or do themed lunch days: Monday is salad day, Tuesday, sandwiches, Wednesday, yogurt…you get the picture.
•Staying home for dinner can get boring, I get it. Sometimes you just want to get out. But try to bring some fun into it by be having a BBQ, or letting the kids cook or help cook (if they're old enough). The key is to bring something different to the table that's enjoyable for everyone.
•Cutting back by getting rid of cable is doable nowadays, thanks to high-speed internet. It's generally a whole lot cheaper than cable, and the family can have fun gathering around the computer for movie night online.
•Instead of going to the movies, rent one…much cheaper! You don't have to buy expensive movie tickets and overpriced snacks. Or if your family is creative, you can make your own. Have a family make-a-movie night and put on plays, puppet shows, or what-have-you.
You can even capture the fun using your digital camera or webcam. Who knows, you might have future YouTube stars on your hands!
•Look up how to make your own skin cleansers, household cleaners, even shampoo and deodorant online. Learn how you can make these things for pennies, you can save a ton of money and have fun in the process.
Do You Struggle?
Sometimes getting creative and customizing your budget to fit your family are some of the best tips for actually sticking with your budget!
Do you have trouble sticking with your budget? Let us know what you think of these ideas in the comments!