Budgeting: A Money Diet

Budgeting and Dieting are so much alike. Neither are fun and both require a lot of discipline.  However, if you stick with them, the results are positive. We have all read the basic budgeting advice articles that say stick with it, save money, set goals, etc.  I want to break these advice tips down and add some ideas to make following the advice much easier. Kind of like a diet that taste just a little better and even has a few cheat days.

STICK WITH IT – OR TRY:

First, one of the most common pieces of advice is “stick with it”.   Well, it’s not that easy. Unexpected expenses arise all the time. My daughter just had tubes put in her ears and that was certainly not an expense I budgeted for! Unexpected expenses come in the forms of car trouble, loss of a job, injuries, etc. Regardless of it’s form, it can throw a serious curve ball into your budget. So my advice to “sticking with it” involves giving yourself some room to have months where you might not be within the budget.  That’s OKAY!   You can make it up. It will become more natural with time and you will get better at budgeting. Don’t give up because of some curve balls in the beginning.

SAVE MONEY!?!?

Save money?!?! Well of course, we all want to save money but how can we when just sticking to a budget is already hard enough? I’ve learned that personally, the best way for me to save money is to have it out of sight which makes it out of mind, which makes me not want to spend it. One of the best ways to save is to ask payroll or HR to automatically put $10, $20, etc. dollars out of each paycheck into a savings account. Pretend as if that money doesn’t exist and just let it add up. Soon enough you will have more money saved than you ever thought possible.

SET GOALS – AND REWARDS!

Last, set goals. This one is my favorite. I really think goals motivate us but more importantly having little rewards along with those goals can help you stay focused on them. You should set a long term BIG goal, such as be debt free, down payment on a home, purchase a car, pay off credit cards, etc.

After you set BIG goal(s), you should set small goals along the way. Examples of small goals may be things like stay on budget for 3 months , save $100 this year, don’t eat out all month, etc. As you are setting the big and small goals, plan rewards to go along with them! If you stayed on budget for 3 months, go spend $20.00 and buy a new shirt or have a nice meal, etc. These rewards are the cheat days, the days that make all of the sacrificing the rest of the time worth it.  The rewards that remind you that you still can have fun and do things you want to do, even while dieting…I mean, budgeting.

If you want some great resources on budgeting, below are a few sites I think offer valuable information and resources:

1. Federal Student Aid’s Site on Budgets: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college/budgeting/budgeting-tips
2. Dave Ramsey’s site on Budgeting: https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/the-truth-about-budgeting/

Good luck!!

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