Battling the urge to spend and not able to stick to a budget? Identify why so that you can be good with money with the help of these tips and Money Dashboard...
7 tips to help...
Sticking to a budget is harder than you might think. Most people spend without thinking too much about how much it leaves them and what else they could do with the money. Being conscious of your personal finances is very helpful when it comes to saving money and avoiding overspend. If you have tried and failed to stick to a budget, these seven tips might be helpful.
1. You forgot your goal
Keep in mind the reason you are budgeting in the first place. Maybe you're saving up for a holiday, or a new entertainment system. Find a way to remind yourself of that goal. Print a picture and put it somewhere you'll notice it. Maybe you want to get out of debt, and you just need to be reminded of the words debt free. Find a way to keep your goal in mind.
2. Temptation got the better of you
It can be hard to break bad spending habits. Maybe your friends talked you into going out to the pub, when you couldn't afford it. Maybe you just couldn't resist that late night purchase on eBay. Whatever your weakness is, you're probably already aware of it.
The trick is to replace these behaviours. Perhaps you can add those online purchases to a wish list, and give it at least a week to consider anything before purchasing. Keep a snack in your bag so you're not tempted to buy convenience food. Bring your favourite coffee from home to drink at work, so you don't have to pick one up at Costa. Make too much food at meal-times, so you have some leftovers and don't have to get takeaway.
Whatever is tempting you, find replacement behaviour, or plan a way to overcome it.
3. You're not tracking your spending
Keeping a budget is not about spending a particular amount of money and no more, it's about making sure your income is being spent on what you want it to be. Money Dashboard is an excellent tool for personal finance management because it allows you to quickly and easily see how much is being spent on different aspects of your life. You can easily find particular transactions, and see where you have been overspending.
4. Your budget is too tight
If your budget is too strict, it becomes very difficult to stick to. You will feel an urge to break out of your own oppressive planning. A small unexpected purchase could put you over budget and it can seem impossible to stay within the lines. If you find you are always slightly over budget, do your calculations again and this time give yourself 10% more padding for overspending.
You're not likely to get it right first time, but learn from your experience, adapt, and try again.
5. Your budget is not tight enough
You might find that you just don't have enough income to cover all your expenses, making your budget impossible. If you have the option to earn more money, then work on this as a priority. If not, it's time to either scale back your lifestyle, or speak to organisations like Citizens Advice Bureau to see if you are able to claim any benefits or tax credits.
6. You made it too difficult
It's possible to make healthy spending easier on yourself. You can set up direct debits and standing orders with your bank to pay off bill, pay your creditors, or transfer a regular amount into your savings. Take out all your cash for the week, and split it into an amount for each day, then only have that amount in your wallet that day. This will give you a clear and tangible view of each days' spending.
If you snack, buy your snacks in bulk and keep them to hand. If you order takeaway, buy some frozen pizzas or microwave meals instead. There are plenty of phone apps and websites to help with budgeting and personal accounts too, including Money Dashboard.
7. You didn't adapt to problems
Unexpected expenses come up sometimes, and even if you've done your best to stay good, you might end up over budget. Maybe you thought you make a sacrifice for your budget but found it hard to cope going without.
Don't give up so easily. Maybe you need more leeway in your budget for unplanned expenses, or save a little longer and push back your goal. Respond to this challenge and adapt; don't just return to your old behaviour.
Don't be too hard on yourself either. No one said you have to get your budget perfect on the first go. As long as you're making an effort to save up and pay off your debts, you're on the right track.
About the author
Mike Hall is a media and marketing professional, specialising in video production and content marketing. From Edinburgh, Scotland, Mike now lives in Glasgow. He has experience is short film production, podacasting and Internet radio, as well as having worked with SMEs in the technology industry, and private clients as a web designer, and an IT and marketing consultant.