So you’ve taken the time to sit down and prepare your budget for the month. You’re excited to get on track with your money on payday, but as time goes on you’re finding yourself getting farther and further off from your budget. Actually sticking to your budget is the hardest part of managing your money! Today I’m sharing 5 tips to help you stick to your budget.
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1. Track your spending.
I think this is the most important part of budgeting. I was never able to really stick to my budget until I started tracking all my spending. Tracking your spending helps you know exactly how much money you have to spend at any given time.
Tracking your spending is super simple, too. Use a spending tracker worksheet or start an excel file where you record every single bit of money you spend and where it was spent. You can break down your spending by category so you know where you tend to spend the most.
2. Have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is there to give you peace of mind that you can cover an unexpected expense. This savings account is especially important if you need the money for a true emergency – a car wreck, a sudden illness, or your house floods. In these situations, the last thing you also want to be worrying about is where you’re going to get the money to fix the problem. A credit card is not an emergency fund!
Saving up $1,000 is a good place to start, but you should aim to eventually have 3-6 months of expenses saved up, just in case. You never know what could happen, so having a safety net in place can give you a lot of peace of mind and save your from a lot of financial stress – especially when something does happen.
Once you have your emergency fund saved up, act like it doesn’t exist. You don’t want to be dipping into this account when things get tight in your normal budget.
3. Use sinking funds.
A sinking fund is a savings account set aside for a specific expense that you know is coming and have a rough idea of how much it will cost. Usually, you set aside a certain amount of money each month towards that specific expense. You can have one sinking fund or you can have 20, it just depends on what kind of expenses you see yourself having.
I personally keep separate savings accounts for each one of my sinking fund categories; they’re in savings accounts that return a little higher interest rate than the average bank. My sinking funds are in Capital One 360 savings accounts, which are all connected to a checking account that I have a debit card for. This enables me to keep my sinking fund money separate from the rest of my money, but I still have easy access to it when I need it.
Sinking funds are great because they can provide a lot of peace of mind, especially if you are working on paying off debt. Even though it’s tempting to throw everything you possibly can at paying down debt or saving for a goal, an emergency fund, and sinking funds are important safety nets that can keep you from blowing your budget – or getting further in debt! They’re a great way to put savings on autopilot and create a habit of setting money aside each month. A little planning and time spent setting up your sinking funds now will save you from having to worry later!
4. Keep your budget somewhere you’ll see it.
I like to use a budget binder to keep track of my finances and I leave it out on our coffee table or on my desk so I am reminded to look at it often. I walk by both of these places every day, so I am more likely to sit down and update my spending trackers and take a look at my financial goals.
If you keep your budget digitally, make sure you save the app to your homepage or put the spreadsheet on your desktop. If you need to, set a reminder on your phone to check in with your budget everyday. The more you look at your financial goals and your plans, the more motivated you’ll be to stay on track.
5. Find accountability.
Having someone you can share your goals with and that will hold you accountable to them can go a long way. Find a friend, family members, coworker, or even a stranger on the internet that will support your financial goals. I like to be involved with the #debtfreecommunity on Instagram.
I have a membership called Flamingo Fundamentals where I help the members find accountability for their financial goals. Not only do a share a lot of information and resources to help members understand the basics of personal finances, but I also do weekly live streams and monthly webinars so anyone can ask questions, get support, and find accountability. Click here to join the waiting list for Flamingo Fundamentals!
I also like to consume as much finance related content as possible. I follow budgeting related YouTube channels, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts that help me stay motivated and inspired about what is possible. Seeing other people hit their goals can keep you pushing to reach yours.
Managing your money is more about behavior than it is about math. These 5 tips will help you stick to your budget and put in place some good financial habits, so you can reach your financial goals!