Sticking to a budget isn’t always easy. If you’ve struggled with staying on budget as well, I’ve found five tips to stick to your budget without overspending. Which is easier some days than others.
Some months, we stay super encouraged and are excited about the progress we are making on our financial goals. Other months, it takes everything in me when another trip to Target is calling my name. I want. all. the. things.
If you’re anything like me, you have these moments of weakness as well. Times when your wants are screaming louder than your needs. When your momentary desires cloud out the vision of your long-term goals.
We can all use a little motivation every once in a while. Here are five tips to help you stick to your budget and stay on track to meet your financial goals.
1 – Have an end goal to keep you motivated.
My husband and I have been working towards our own financial goal. For the last few years, we have been diligently paying down debt. Credit cards, car payments, student loans. Our goal is to one day be debt free and have more to give to others! We can’t wait to one day be saving for college and retirement and have more than enough to bless others. That is our motivation.
*Update: We are now debt free!! You can read about Our Debt Free Story here.
What is your goal? Where do you want to be financially in ten years? Do you want to find a way to live below your means, pay off debt, build up savings, invest more, fund a wedding or college, strategically give to others?
Find the purpose in your penny pinching!! Your goal might not look the same as mine, but it should give you motivation to stick to your guns when you’re tempted to blow the budget. If you like pretty printables, I have a Financial Goal Setting worksheet in the Simple Finance Toolkit that will help you brainstorm your financial goals. You can get a free copy in the little box at the bottom of the post.
2 – Post that goal where you can see it.
Draw a count-down until your debt-free date on a thermometer and post it on the fridge. Keep your goal for the month on a post-it and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Track how close you are to meeting your goal of a fully funded emergency fund. Have regular conversations with your significant other about your progress and get excited!!
I write down our budget each month in a little spiral notebook. At the top of my sheet I write how much is left to pay off, AND how much we have already paid off. It is so motivating to see how far we’ve come!
3 – Check your account balance every morning as routine.
This is something that, thanks to modern technology, literally takes less than 60 seconds. I just glance at our checking account total really quickly to make sure nothing extra has been withdrawn. Every once in a while a surprise expense comes out and I need to take a peek at our budget and rework some numbers.
It is so important to know how much is left in your account so you can be in full control of what you are spending your money on. It also makes me more aware of what we are wasting our money on.
Instead of worrying about money and wondering if you have enough to cover all of your expenses, you can rest in the knowledge that you have what you need. In less than a minute a day, you can know that while you might not have a ton of extra money laying around, you do have enough. That minute will be such an investment in your peace of mind, knowing the bills are covered and you have money to reach your goals one small step at a time.
4 – Keep that grocery budget in check.
I don’t know about you, but when I blow our budget for the month it is almost always related to not using our grocery budget wisely. I might show up to the store without a list because I didn’t plan ahead and make my menu for the week. So I load my cart with things I may or may not really need, spending way more than I should. Or I find myself giving in to my family’s pleas to eat out again and again because I haven’t had the time to go to the grocery store and I know we don’t have much food at home.
This one area has the power to keep us completely on track or completely derail our month. BUT when I plan ahead, make a weekly menu, shop by my list, and use cash to pay, I ALWAYS stay under budget. Staying mindful about groceries is half of the battle!
If you are looking for resources to help you stick to your budget, the Simple Finance Toolkit at the bottom of the post also has a Monthly Budget form that will help you outline all expenses, including groceries. And there is a Weekly Meal Planning sheet that can give you a plan for the week! When you plan your meals, it is easy to create a shopping list based on that meal plan. And when you shop with a list and a purpose, you are less likely to waste money on impulse purchases.
5 – Reward yourself when you hit milestones.
If I’ve learned anything these past few years paying off debt, it’s that sometimes it’s no fun to miss out and say no all the time. But if we said yes to every invitation sent our way, we would definitely not be where we are today. My husband and I decided to take our big goal of being debt free and break it down into mini-goals. Each time we met one of our mini-goals we rewarded ourselves with a special dinner or a small trip or a purchase our family wanted that wasn’t necessarily in our super strict budget.
For example, our large goal of being debt free was broken down into smaller goals of paying off medical bills, then credit cards, then our car payments, then student loans, and student loans, and more student loans. Once we hit a mini-goal, we would celebrate that milestone and say yes to something we had been looking forward to. Each time we paid off another loan, we partied!!
By celebrating the progress you are making, it keeps you motivated to stay on track. And watching your family inch closer and closer to meeting your financial goals makes budget-tracking SO worth the effort.
Sometimes sticking to a tight budget can be taxing. But these five tips will give you a little extra push to stay motivated.
**P.S.** Don’t forget: if you are looking for free finance printables to help you stay organized, enter your email in the little box at the bottom of this post to get instant access to the Simple Finance Toolkit that is exclusive to my subscribers. You will be given immediate access to a goal setting sheet, a monthly budget sheet to help you stay organized, a bill tracker to stay on top of payments, and more. These resources will keep you encouraged, motivated, and organized.
Interested in saving money this summer? Read my post on the Number One Tip to Cut Cooling Costs this Summer.
You might also like reading my post, The Quickest Way to Pay Off Debt.