In this tough economy, finding easy ways to stick to a budget is not such a simple task. However, whether from sheer necessity or as a logical way to monitor your finances, smart budgeting is worth the effort. Consider some of the ways and means to do it successfully.
1. Get real about your budget: It’s basically understanding the simple fact that what you earn is all you should spend. The process has to be done in logical steps. First, whatever long-term loans or rents you have, such as on a car or house, have priority when you pay bills. Once they’re out of the way in required monthly payments, you can budget for food, clothing, entertainment and other anticipated costs.
2. Pay everything with cash whenever possible: One way to stick to your budget is to cut back on using credit cards. That smart move can have two primary benefits. First, paying for purchases by cash wakes you up from the illusion of thinking the credit card is some kind of magical wand. Credit cards can lull you into buying just about anything you want on impulse. Then, you face the shock of seeing it all add up to a big bill at the end of the month.
Additionally, fees and interest rates on credit cards cost money you can’t spend elsewhere. You could be charged up to 10% on the unpaid balance each month. That can grow to backbreaking amounts if you let the debt accumulate over several months..
3. Pack a lunch: Instead of going for a restaurant meal and drinks on some days, take a homemade sandwich and small bottle of juice to work. Additionally, cut back on family restaurant meals, and replace them with creative picnics in the park or backyard. When you do dine out, take leftovers home in doggy bags. If you eat modestly, they add up to extra meals you won’t have to buy.
4. Be a frugal shopper: Check newspapers and online daily for coupons. Clip them and always have them with you when at the supermarket. While there, instead of name brands in packaged foods and coffee, try the no-name generics.
5. Be a budget buddy: Share shopping with friends and relatives, and buy in bulk lots. Carpool also in shopping, commuting and driving kids to school.
You should always be looking for easy ways to stick to your budget. Even after you’ve succeeded in establishing your outgo to match your income, continue to find new ways to economize.