So you’ve set a budget. How can you make sure you stick to it? Budgeting is not a one time deal. You can’t just keep an eye on what goes in and out of your bank accounts one month. It is something you have to do again and again until you are in the habit. Think of it this way, you are a record. Everything you learn or do makes a groove in your record. That groove can never go away. What you have to do is make a deeper groove in order to overcome your problem. People with money management problems will never have budgeting come natural to them, but they can make it so much a part of their lives that it gets much easier.
First of all, refer to the exceptional records of your spending that you are now keeping. Compare them to your budget. Do this weekly, or even daily, to start with. If you are within your budget, great! Don’t change a thing! Just because you are spending within your budget does not mean you should spend more. If you are not within your budget, make those corrections and keep monitoring your spending. Keeping constant check on your spending will keep yourself in line.
Some people cannot stick to a budget alone. They need someone to answer to, someone besides creditors. If you find yourself “cheating” on your budget, ask a close friend or relative to help you out. Make sure you are comfortable with this person knowing your financial situation and having personal information about your money. If you are sure you can trust them, have this person meet with you once week to go over your budget. Have them make you accountable for everything you spend over your budget. Sometimes just being accountable to another person makes sticking to your budget that much easier.
And speaking of getting other people involved, include your whole family in your financial decisions. Children can learn a lot about money at an early age. Teach them that the family pack saves money or that saving a dollar this week means having extra money for fun stuff later. Have children go shopping with you and point out what saves you money. Try putting savings towards something the whole family can enjoy, such as a fun weekend out of town. Making finances a family affair will make it easier to stay on budget while teaching good habits for the future.
One problem with setting a budget is realizing that you will never be perfect. If you have ever looked into a cash advance you know a budget needs to be flexible. If you have an extra grocery expense this week, then take a little out of your entertainment fund. You can always sacrifice a little “fun” stuff for necessities. Reward yourself for staying on budget by planning a fun evening, buying that name brand box of cookies, or taking a relaxing bubble bath… anything that doesn’t cost too much money and will make you feel special.