Although two-thirds of Americans have a budget, 70% of budgeters have trouble sticking to it. As the months pass by, it’s easy to lose the focus and motivation you need to maintain your financial goals. Are you about to break your budget?
Stop. Don’t be a victim of budget fatigue. Maybe you’re saving up for a downpayment on a home, an emergency fund, or you’re trying to catch up on retirement.
The goal may seem far away, but you can do this.
All you need is a bit of money motivation. Kickstart your savings plan with an inspired budget. These smart budgeting tips can keep you in the game before you decide to throw in the towel.
Motivate Yourself With an Inspired Budget
A budget is more than numbers on a sheet of paper. No matter how strict your financial situation may seem, it’s still possible to motivate yourself when you’ve lost your way.
So what are the secrets to fending off budget fatigue? Well, here’s eight of them.
1. Leave Room to Indulge
Sure, a harsh budget is the fastest way to save money. But is it the most effective? Not if it makes you quit!
“Fun” money is an important addition to any budget. You can’t eat out as much as before, but don’t go cold-turkey. Allow yourself room to indulge.
Yes, you’re on a budget. But that doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself.
If you’re deadset on maximizing your monthly savings, consider reducing your spending money month by month. You’ll have more time to adjust and are more likely to stick with the budget in the long run.
2. Find Fun Alternatives
It’s true: You can have fun for free. Instead of heading out for dinner or watching a movie, consider some cheap alternatives.
Head to the park, play cards or go to your friend’s place for board games. It’ll take time for your lifestyle to adjust to your new budget. But once it has, you’ll have as much fun — or more — than you did spending money on expensive outings.
3. Don’t Make It Easy
We all have moments of weakness. Establish barriers that make it difficult to give up on your budget when you’re feeling low. For people with serious budgeting difficulties, this might mean getting rid of your credit card entirely.
Studies have shown that people are willing to spend twice as much for the same purchase if they use a credit card. When you only have $20 in your pocket, a $10 coffee is a huge expense. But in comparison to your credit limit, $10 is nothing.
Or, instead of dropping the credit card, have your bank reduce your daily withdraw allowance.
4. Automate Your Budget
The less you have to manage your budget, the better. Luckily, banks offer plenty of financial automation. Use a bucket savings program and set up automatic transfers. With this in place, the bank will allocate your spending money and keep your budget off your mind.
To further reduce the burden, consider the use of an automated excel sheet. With very little work, you can create a worksheet that divides your paychecks according to your budget’s specifications.
5. Celebrate the Savings
When you’re on a budget, every successful month is worth celebrating. Don’t just look at the light at the end of the tunnel — because let’s face it, you’ll probably still have to stick to some kind of budget afterward.
Establish some achievable milestones. These can help you keep your eyes on the long-term goal of your budget plan, but also give you an excuse to treat yourself to a nice night out.
6. Stay Accountable
Let everyone know you’re on a budget. Scream it from the rooftops and all 280 Twitter characters. No, you’re not bragging.
What you’re doing is setting up public accountability. When your friends and family catch you purchasing something luxurious or unnecessary, they can guilt-trip you back onto the right path.
There’s another reason to be public about your savings goals: It’ll hopefully stop your friends from dragging you along to expensive outings.
7. Cut Additional Expenses
If you’re feeling the pain of a strict budget, maybe it’s time for a re-evaluation. Are you being as frugal as possible? Further reducing your expenses allows more leeway and spending money in your budget.
This might mean shopping at a discount grocery store or washing your clothes by hand, rather than at a laundromat. It could be as simple as changing your telephone plan. If you live in a city, perhaps you can sell your car and use public transportation instead.
Is debt draining your finances? Credit card and tax debt can hinder any budget. A tax relief service could take this burden off your shoulders.
8. Try Meal Planning
How much do you spend on food? Probably too much. When you don’t buy enough groceries, you’ll be tempted to eat out instead.
Meal planning can help you stick to your budget. Find delicious and cheap recipes that keep you full and away from fast food joints.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Financial Goals
No matter what happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you break your budget from time to time, it’s better than not having one at all. And with every mistake is a new opportunity for improvement.
Even with an inspired budget, you might indulge yourself from time to time. And that’s okay. Remember to refocus, get yourself back on track, and never lose sight of your long-term financial goals.
Continue reading our blog for more saving tips.