Let’s be honest, after you have set a budget, sticking to it is the hard part. No one likes to be told how to spend their money. Most of us like to spend what we want, whenever we want. However, no one ever solved a financial issue by spending what they want.
If you have debts that need to be paid or household needs that are not being met or you just want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you need to create a stress-free budget and then stick to your budget to meet your financial goals.
Stick to Your Budget – Set Realistic Expectations for Spending.
When creating your budget, be realistic about how much you actually spend on things. If you have a family of five, your monthly food budget should not be a mere $150. Make sure that you have a fairly accurate amount in the budget that does not leave anyone hungry or leave you having to spend more than anticipated.
Having an unrealistic budget will only cause arguments and keep you from meeting your goals because you will get discouraged. It will probably take a few months to nail this down really well. But make sure in the meantime you communicate constantly with your spouse and that you both understand that the first month or two will not be perfect and adjustments will have to be made even after that initial period has passed.
Stick to Your Budget by Doing Good Research on All Purchases.
I’ll admit that my husband and I like to research. We start researching new job locations months before the military moves us and that research makes us happy. Research is one of the things we have in common. There are two rules we have about making big purchases.
- Always wait 24 hours if you are tempted to make a purchase in the store and in the moment.
- Always research prices, competition, and the market.
Before making bigger purchases, do some research. Where can you get the best deal and when can you get the best deal? If you are in the market for a new couch, consider waiting for a sale, when possible. Many furniture stores have sales around holidays like Memorial Day and Black Friday after Thanksgiving. It may be hard to wait, but well worth the savings!
Stop Using Your Credit Card. That’s Not the Way to Stick to Your Budget.
I’ll never forget a couple of years ago when my husband handed me a new copy of our Visa card. “Bring me your old one so I can shred it,” he said. But I didn’t know where my old one was. “What do you mean you don’t know where it is – did it get stolen?” The fact of the matter was, I knew it was in an old wallet somewhere, but at that moment I had not used our credit card in almost three years.
I don’t charge things to credit any more. It wasn’t an easy habit to break – we used a lot of credit in the early days of our marriage. But at some point I knew my credit card and I had to break up. So we did.
Once you have used all of your cash, you may find yourself pulling out your credit card to make your purchases out of habit. You may be thinking, “What is one tiny little purchase going to hurt?” However, in reality, the interest and the temptation both snowball and it will get easier to pull out the credit card every time you push that limit. If you do not have the funds, wait to make your purchase until the timing is better.
Stick to Your Budget by Buying Second-hand.
Not everything you own has to be brand new. In fact, I would argue NOTHING you own needs to be brand new, with the possible exception of underwear. I literally stalk certain words in the Facebook Marketplace where people sell used goods. I have a notification set up for words like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Leather Furniture, and other household items we need or want. I keep a running list of things I’m looking to buy used, and we spend a portion of our quarterly budget (not every month) on used items our household needs – from expensive LulaRoe clothing for my sensory-challenged daughter to brand name furniture.
Buying second-hand will allow you to put your money elsewhere in your budget. There are garage sale sites on Facebook, Freecycle, tons of second-hand stores, and even Amazon and eBay can help you buy used or get a great deal. Using your money wisely by buying second-hand will definitely help you stick to your budget.
Don’t Buy Upgrades You Don’t Need if You Want to Stick To Your Budget.
Apple has just released the iPhoneX. While the newest features and faster speeds may sound enticing, the price tag is not so pretty. If your current phone, computer, and car are in working order, there is no need spend your money on an upgrade – wait and buy what you need when you need it. My husband used his first generation iPhone for close to twelve years before he was forced to upgrade because the battery failed! They don’t last that long any more, but you can definitely make it a year or two past your contract period if you are careful with your device.
The richest people in the world don’t just run out and buy the latest and greatest – if you doubt me, read The Millionaire Next Door – it’s an eye opening book. You can stick to your budget by being happy with what you have and refusing the temptation to make unnecessary purchases and upgrades.