We’ve mentioned budgeting on numerous occasions here at 10 Tips, and we’ll undoubtedly do it many more times in the future as it’s a fantastic skill to have. However, setting a budget and deciding what to spend and where is often the easy part. Potentially far more challenging is sticking to it once you’ve made it. In our efforts to provide tips on just about anything and everything, we’ve taken this opportunity to help out anyone that uses budgets frequently in their day to day lives, either personally or professionally. With these tips, you’ll ensure that you don’t fall behind on plans while making your money go as far as it possibly can. So, let’s get to it and find out how to stick to the budget you have in mind.
1. Start Saving Now if You Don’t Have the Full Budget
In personal terms, you might have a budget in mind for something with some forward planning involved. You may have decided now that you need or want a new car and your budget is the amount you have in mind to spend. It’s great to have a price in mind, as it helps sift through the thousands of cars on sale at any given time. However, what if you don’t yet have the funds to make that budget happen?
Well, you could go down the credit route, but we’ll leave the enjoyment or preference for credit up to you. In most cases, savings represent the more cost-effective option. It therefore goes without saying that there’s no time like the present to start to work towards filling out that budget, as that’s when the fun part truly begins.
2. Be Ruthless in Spending According to Your Budget
The most common reason for budgets going awry is when people aren’t ruthless enough about sticking to them. If you’re planned to spend a certain amount on a specific day, only take that much cash with you. Trust the plans you’ve made and don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you’ll make up the shortfall later on. Some people can do that, but it’s not what we’d call reliable.
3. Be Ready to Adjust the Budget if Things Go Wrong
It’s easy enough for us to write the second tip, but not always as easy to stick with it. If you do find yourself over-budget in whatever you seek to achieve, the best thing you can do early on is to address it immediately. It’ll take some creative thinking and moving around, but being prepared to do that can make all the difference.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable by Sharing Responsibility
The bad habits that can sneak into the maintenance of any budget happen to the best of us, and it’s often how you deal with that which decides whether you succeed or fail. Most people are far more inclined to let themselves down than someone they trust, and that means holding yourself accountable by sharing the budget with others – at least if you’re not confident in your own abilities.
5. Clear Debts Associated with a Project Beforehand
Debt and budgets rarely mix, even if you’re a professional mathematician. Debts incur costs that can take a chunk out of any budget you’ve planned, and the nature of debt payments means that they’re rarely consistent. Money saved is money you can spend, so try to cut these expenses before you plan any other projects or major purchases.
6. Use Receipts to Track Your Progress
It can be hard to keep up with your budget in real time. Even if you go with our tip to only take out as much cash as you have budgeted to spend, it works both ways. Going over is never good, but landing under-budget is something you should be ready to capitalise on. You might consider it a win and treat yourself, or you can plug those savings back into your budget and improve in other areas. There’s no right or wrong answer, and we only urge you to make the most of it.
7. Reassess Regularly based on External Factors
While the budget and project will undoubtedly live at the front of your mind, you shouldn’t neglect other factors going on around you. Budgets can shatter if they require certain time or a significant income level to thrive. Try to have a contingency plan for if anything changes and, failing that, be quick to react and make changes.
8. Always Aim to Cut Costs on More Involved Projects
If your budget is in place for a single major purchase, it is what it is. However, if your budget is for your personal weekly spend, a large project or home improvement, never feel like cost-cutting is finished. If you’ve budgeted for something on a certain date but the price goes down for one day only, ensure you have the flexibility in your plans to capitalise – just as long as the saving is worth it based on the extra time you’ll need to spend juggling.
9. Distribute Cash on Hand Where Most Appropriate
If you’ve got the cash for your budget already on hand, it’s a good idea to put it where you need it most. If the project you have in mind spans months or years, the funds for later purchases could be placed in a high-interest account. Even in the short term, try to use different accounts for different phases or areas of the project to help avoid temptation to overspend in some while neglecting others.
10. Don’t Waste the Leftovers
If all goes to plan and you’ve got your timing right, you’ll have a big purchase or a finished project to hand. Even if you’re skilled at budgets and did everything you planned, you have just as much chance of finding some leftover cash as going over. This isn’t the time to treat yourself – think of that money as the nest egg to propel your next project and budget.