A budget is difficult to stick to, so hard that in fact a recent Gallup poll showed that one in every three American’s follow a household budget, so that means that two-thirds of the population have sort of a spending free for call. Scary when you think about. While tough, there are still a few ways to make sure you can accomplish a successful budget.
Figure Out What You Want
A budget will only work if there is a goal in mind. Do you want to build up savings account? Pay off debt? Saving for a vacation? You will need to ask yourself, first, what is important in your life. Take a look at your entire picture of where you currently stand with your debts, assets, your current age, and what your plans are for the future. It is never too early to start.
Use Cash Only
If you are having trouble keeping a leash on the amount of money going out over the course of a month try and put away the plastic and just use the allocated spending money in cash. That way you can only spend as much as you have, and hopefully are able to ration the money out for must-have purchases. At least you can physically see the money leaving your hand and going into the register, maybe giving second thought before making a purchase.
Pay Extra Towards Debt First
Let’s face it, whatever is leftover in your checking account will be spent, so why not put it towards debt payoff instead of thinking it is money to be blown. If you make a debt payment in the beginning of the month, or right when you get paid, then there it will not be available to spend on entertainment. The trick will be to discipline yourself enough not to use plastic when you run out of cash that you want to spend.
Eliminate Unnecessary Spending
If the money going out exceeds what is coming in every month, it will not be long until the budget will be ripped up and forgotten about. You can hope to have money left over at the end of the month, or at least break even to have a successful budget, so spending will have to be decreased. Getting rid of any unnecessary spending such as excessive eating out, concessions at the movies, or bar tabs could be a good place to make some cuts.
Generate Extra Income
If every dollar is spoken for when it comes to necessary monthly expenses such as bills, loans, food, and gas, and contributing to savings, with limited entertainment spending but still seem to be coming up short at the end of the month, it might be time to produce some extra income. If it is a short-term necessity, then you could look at your unused household items to sell online, or if a more long-term solution is needed, there is nothing wrong with putting in some hours at a second job. After all, making money could trump time that normally would be spent watching TV.