Creating a budget for your family is a simple enough process. You tally up all your income as well as all of your expenses to determine how much you have to spend each month and how much you make each month. Once you see it all in black and white, you can identify some areas where you can lower spending and set out to make it happen. Of course, making that plan is the easy part. The real challenge is sticking to the plan over the course of the month. Keeping spending within the budget is an overwhelming task for some families, but these tips can help you and your family stay on the path to budgeting success.
Pay Yourself First
An important practice when it comes to executing a budget is to pay yourself first; do this by paying into your savings, investment, and/or retirement accounts before other expenses. Determine what a reasonable contribution is each month, and ensure that you meet your savings goals by making monthly, or biweekly deposits a priority, before unexpected expenses deplete it. Most banks, and some employers make it easy for you to automatically send a portion of your paycheck each month directly into a separate account. It may be tempting to pay bills right away or save what’s left after a month of spending, but if savings is your priority, pay yourself first.
Plan For Emergencies and Splurges
Having a budget that is too strict is one reason that people fail at sticking to a spending plan. Instead of trying to account for every nickel and dime each month, give yourself a little wiggle room. Create a category in the budget just for splurges and emergencies. You do not have to use up all of the money in the given category, but having it available will be a relief when you find something on sale at the store and want to stock up.
Focus On Cash
An article on Investopedia suggests going to cash-only spending to ensure that you stay on budget. This is a similar approach to financial guru Dave Ramsey’s envelope system where envelopes for each budget category hold the monthly cash for spending each month. With this system, the goal is to only spend using the money in the envelopes. Using cash also helps you visualize the amount of money that you are spending as opposed to using a credit card or debit card. Once you have used up all of the cash for a particular category, you have to fight the urge to pull out a credit card.
Get Rid Of Extra Credit Cards
How many credit cards do you really need? If you find that you have one credit card for each day of the week, maybe its time to cut back. Relying on credit will make it tougher to keep to a budget! You don’t need to cancel paid off credit cards – having a few is good for your credit score. Either tuck them away to avoid using them or shred them if the temptation is too great.
Reward Yourself Regularly
Sticking to a budget is hard work, and if meeting that budget is the only reward that you get from it, then you might end up struggling. How you want to reward yourself is really up to you. One idea is to create a vacation savings category in the budget and only use the money accrued in the category after at least six consecutive months of being on-budget. You can also give yourself other little treats instead like a nice dinner out or a shopping splurge.
Do It With Support
One of the most important aspects of achieving success with budgeting is having someone to support your efforts. Getting the whole family on board with your efforts can help make it a team effort. Likewise, you can look to friends and online communities of like-minded people who can also offer support.
When you feel yourself starting to slip with your monthly spending, refer back to these tips to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon. Doing so will set your family up for budgeting success.