Nobody likes to feel limited. That’s why it is so hard for us to follow rules we set for ourselves. After all, if it is your rule, it can’t really hurt to break it, right? Wrong.
If you think of a budget as a set of rules, it’s likely you’ll resent the limits you’ve set. But you made that budget for a reason, and breaking your budget can definitely harm your dreams of financial security or freedom.
So rather than feeling limited by your budget, take some precautions to be sure that your financial plans actually succeed. After all, that financial freedom is pretty sweet.
Be Honest in Your Budget
Somehow being honest with ourselves can be hard. Are you really going to cut up those credit cards? How much can you realistically pay on your loans? It’s easy to make a plan that sounds good, but isn’t particularly realistic.
Dig through your numbers and look at the hard facts. How much do you earn? How much can you really cut back? Some debt includes fixed payments, which makes them easy to plan for. The savings is in the other areas.
Look for the areas you can change and be realistic. If you cut all of the fun stuff out of your life to save money, you’re likely to suffer from a very expensive relapse.
Get Help Sticking to Your Numbers
There are excellent personal finance apps and tools out there to make budgeting easier. Use them! Technology makes it possible to sync up your banking accounts and credit cards so you can see your spending categories and even track how much you have left in every area after each purchase.
Don’t Forget to Prepare for the Unexpected
A specific budget makes it easy to track every dollar, but if you have every dollar of income allotted for certain items, you might run into trouble if an unexpected expense pops up.
Instead of allotting every single dollar to an expense when you’re budgeting, also send some cash into an emergency fund. That way the things you haven’t planned for like car repairs, a larger tax bill, a medical bill and other surprise things can be covered without throwing off all of your hard work.
Let Others Help
If you are trying to break some big spending habits, getting help from others can be crucial to making changes. In this case, help isn’t loans from your buddy, but rather the support you will need from friends when you can’t afford to do something you’d like to do.
If your close friends and family members know that you’re trying to cut back on your spending, they can work as accountability partners. A best friend who knows you’re trying to save money won’t constantly badger you to buy expensive concert tickets. A family member who understand your personal finance plans will be gracious about meaningful rather than expensive gifts during the holiday season.
Sticking to a budget is really just adopting some new habits. Once the habits stick, most of your hard work is done. You’ve adjusted to your new budget, you’ll be saving money, paying off credit cards, tackling debt and freeing up your finances.
Don’t forget that you should also be taking care of yourself! Sometimes it is okay to get yourself a bit of a treat. That doesn’t mean blowing your budget out of the water for an all-inclusive island vacation, but putting a bit of fun money in the budget to save up for a small weekend away or those concert tickets will ensure you’re not feeling deprived and even be a fun reward for all of your hard work.