Budgeting tips – sticking to your budget

Image by adriagarcia at Flickr.com

Image by adriagarcia at Flickr.com

If you are looking to get out of debt, or you are currently debt-free and want to stay that way, then it is important that you get a grip of  your financial situation and live within your means.

A good way to do this is to create a budget as this gives you a clear indication of  how much money is coming in, how much is going out and also highlights any areas where you may need to make cut backs should you be falling short each month.

Once you have sorted out the figures and made necessary amendments, for example paying bills by direct debit in order to make savings or cutting existing debts by carrying out a balance transfer to a lower rate credit card, it is time to start focussing on the lifestyle changes.

As you will find, it is one thing to create a budget and quite another to stick to it, but by adhering to the following   steps and exercising a certain amount of will power, you should be able to ensure that you live within your means and resist the urge to reach for that credit card.

Keep focussed

Before you start to look at how you can stick to your budget you need to clarify why you need to stick to your budget!

A budget can initially seem like something that has been devised with the sole intention of stopping you having fun and buying or doing the things that you want. So it is important to remember that, though some cutbacks may be necessary in the short term, a budget is a long-term strategy that will allow you to take control of your finances and, all being well, live a happy life that is free from the worry of excessive debt.

Change your habits

Unfortunately, a successful budget can require a change in lifestyle and this can be one of the most difficult things to adhere to.

For example, if you have previously enjoyed eating out regularly then you may have to make cut backs in this area to ensure that you are living within your means. But, instead of seeing this as a negative, try to focus on the positives and remember the reasons why you are budgeting.

And a change in habits doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cut back on your enjoyment of life and it may actually open your eyes to other pursuits you may not have previously considered.

For example, instead of eating out try preparing a meal at home and turn your dining room into a restaurant. This means that you can still have the fine dining experience but at a fraction of the price and without the worry of making a reservation!

Shop smarter

Lists figure heavily when creating a personal budget and list-making is a habit that you should get used to when trying to stick to your budget.

When budgeting it is vitally important to avoid impulse buying and a great way to do this is to always make a list of things you need before you go shopping.

This means that you will have a clear idea of what you need and you will be less inclined to make random purchases that may just turn out to be an unnecessary drain on your finances. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that you should always differentiate and prioritise the things you need over the things you simply want.

If you are unsure how to make the distinction then put off making the purchase for a couple of days and then reconsider if you actually need it. This cooling off period will often convince you that you can do without it and save you money.

In addition, savings can be made on your shopping by simply swapping big name brands for supermarket own varieties, using discount coupons and looking for any special offers.

Overall, it is important to be fully focussed and committed to your budget plan and to be aware that a change in finances may require a change in lifestyle. But a few short term changes may well add up to better finances in the long term.

Article written by Les Roberts, budget reporter at Moneysupermarket.com.

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  • 4 comments

    Comments

    1. Its hard for people to see how little expenses — $20 here for eating out, $30 there for a sweater — can add up. If you try to give these up for 2 weeks — just 2 weeks — you can often quickly see the difference. That can motivate you to stick to a budget.

      • A spending journal is another great way to keep track of the little expenses that add up…if you can do it. I never could for more than a day or so.

    2. Very apt article. These tips will serve anyone looking to improve their finances well.

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