By Benjamin Feldman, Finance Writer for ReadyForZero

Previously I wrote a post about how to overcome debt with budgeting, and now I want to follow up with a post on how to stick to your budget. For some people the hardest part of budgeting is actually making a budget. But for most of us, the hardest part is making sure we don’t overspend and that we stay on track each month.

 

So how do you stick with your budget? Here are a few tips:

Share Your Goals with Loved Ones

That’s why it’s a good idea to tell your loved ones and close friends about your budget goals ahead of time. Once they know what you’re trying to do and why it’s important to you, more likely than not they will become very supportive and start encouraging you to stick with your plan.Sometimes the biggest obstacle to following the plan you’ve laid out is actually the people around you - your friends and family. Of course, it’s not that they want to make this hard for you - it’s just that their behaviors may inadvertently put pressure on you to spend more than you want. For example, if you have a friend who’s always asking you to have dinner with them and you don’t have room in your budget for it, you might feel stuck between staying faithful to your friendship or your budget.

If your whole family will be budgeting together, you should all have a talk and decide on some strategies you’ll use together (strategies like planning a grocery list ahead of time, only spending on ‘fun’ stuff when everyone agrees, etc.) in order to be successful. As for your friends, hopefully they can help you by thinking up fun things to do that don’t require spending extra money - like a board game night, bike ride, picnic, or free concert or meet up.

Use the Envelope Budgeting System

Lastly, keep your goals in mind, and consider using a system like the envelope budgeting system to manage your spending during the month. What’s the envelope system, you ask? Well, it’s simple. Basically, you put the money for each category (Entertainment, Groceries, etc.) in a separate envelope at the beginning of the month and label it. Then, whenever you need to buy anything during the month you must take money from the appropriate envelope! If you have an expense that is not covered by the money in its own envelope, you can shift money from other envelopes.  If you shift money from another envelope, then you will have less money available for that envelope’s purpose. This system works great whether you’re using cash or a debit card (you can sort the money electronically).

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you as you begin to use budgeting to pay down your debt faster and build up your savings. If you want more tips, you can check out our Budgeting Tips resource center. And once all your debt is gone, keep using the same budgeting habits to turbocharge your savings! Before you know it, you’ll have a hefty savings account instead of a hefty credit card balance.

Benjamin Feldman is a personal finance writer for ReadyForZero, a site that helps people pay off debt by showing them a visual plan and a graph of their debt and interest. You can read more of his work at the ReadyForZero blog.How

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