Simple Tips to Stay on Budget
For many people, staying on budget can be very challenging.
It can even be enough to make you want to quit budgeting altogether.
If keeping to your budget seems like an unattainable task, you’ll be happy to know that there are ways to stay within your budget and even start to free up more money.
Need more help with creating your budget? Check out my post on creating an effective budget.
If you’re having a hard time staying within your budget, some of these tips will help.
Implement the Following Tips to Help You Stay on Budget
1. Stop Using Credit Cards!
If you’re using credit cards then stop! Put your credit cards somewhere you can’t get to them easily. Get rid of store credit cards and put away the rest.
Credit cards will only keep you in debt and hurt your budget.
It’s so easy to forget the real cost of the things you buy when you just swipe your credit card.
If you’re deep in debt and tend to be a spender I would challenge you to work towards getting rid of all credit cards and never using them again.
If you’re worried about your credit score then use them a few times a year and pay it off before interest accrues.
If you’re worried about forgetting to use them and them getting closed then add a small recurring payment to the card such as a Netflix or Hulu subscription. Then set up an automatic payment in full each month to that credit card.
This way it’s set it and forget it and you will maintain your credit score and credit history.
2. Use Cash
Using cash is the best way to start to manage your money. It allows you to actually see and feel the money leaving your hands instead of you just swiping mindlessly.
This is why the cash envelope system is so popular!
Consider using the cash envelope system where you will have designated envelopes marked groceries, lunch money, gas money, etc. in your purse.
This will prevent you from spending more money than budgeted because once the cash runs out, you need to stop spending.
Check out How to Use the Cash Envelope System for Beginners (Free Cash Envelope Printables Included).
Sounds simple right? I challenge you to try it out for a couple of months at least.
If carrying cash just scares you or you’ll know you will never do it, then consider a cashless envelope system.
3. Look for Ways to Cut Back
Believe it or not, there are usually ways you can cut back without even feeling much of a difference.
Take some time out of your week to call up the cable company, the phone company, etc. Discuss different lower-cost plans and be direct by asking how you can lower your bill.
Maybe you don’t use all of your cell phone minutes or data each month or perhaps you can live without HBO.
Check out how to cut cable and still watch what you want for tips on saving on your cable expenses and my post on how I was able to save over $800 on my homeowner’s insurance!
Bring your lunch to work and make your own coffee.
You probably hear this all the time but it really is a great way to free up so much money if you’re someone who buys coffee and lunch daily.
Bring drinks and snacks to work. A 12 pack of soda or a case of water is a whole lot cheaper than spending $2.50 on bottled water at the cafeteria or vending machine at work.
The same goes for snacks. Buy them at the grocery store if you’re always finding yourself at the snack machine midday.
4. Cut Down Your Grocery Bill
There are certain luxury items that some people opt to put in their budgets that can easily be taken out. However, a grocery bill is something that everyone needs, and people often find it hard to budget for.
Analyze how much you spend each week at the grocery store and see if you can bring down the average amount by even a small percentage. This can be one of the best places to save money in your budget.
Use Coupons! Check out how to start couponing even if you’re busy to learn how to use coupons and save money without turning into an extreme couponer and wasting tons of time.
Meal Plan! Honestly, it took me a while to start meal planning but it is so worth it! You save a ton of time and money and stress trying to figure out what to eat each day.
If you don’t like to plan and want someone to do it for you, check out $5 meal plans. It’s meal planning made simple!
5. Budget for Non-Monthly Expenses
When doing your monthly budget you may forget about items like car and home maintenance, medical co-pays, planned vacations, and other non-monthly expenses.
It’s important to cover your basic budget items first like your monthly bills and debt payments but you also want to take into account any expenses that you think may occur within the year and start budgeting for those.
You want to try and leave a cushion in your budget for these items. If you are following a zero-based budget (where every dollar is accounted for) then you will want to allocate any extra money towards what is called sinking funds.
For instance, if you think your car is going to need tires this year then get a quote or estimate the cost and start budgeting for them monthly.
For example, say your tires will cost you $600 you can break that down over 6 or 12 months depending on how long you estimate you have or what you can afford to budget.
The same thing goes for things like a new car fund, back to school shopping, gifts, and any quarterly or yearly expenses you may incur.
TIP! Plan for your gifts all year round! Check out How to Save Money on Gifts All Year Round and get a Free Gift Planner Printable!
6. Do a Weekly or Bi-Weekly Budget Check
A budget isn’t something you do once or even once a month. A budget is a working cash flow system.
Doing weekly or biweekly check-ins on your budget can really keep you on track.
I love using my monthly spending tracker and budget printables to do my monthly and weekly check-ins and I also like to use the EveryDollar app as well so I can see instantly what I have left in my budget.
It also allows me to enter expenses as soon as I incur them and see if I am keeping on budget.
7. Get Out of Debt
This is something you need to put at the top of your list if you have debt. Crushing your debt as fast as you can, will help you free up money each and every month!
If you’ve been budgeting then you most likely have added up your total debt payment each month (if not then do that now).
If a quarter of your budget is going towards your debt then just think about being able to have that amount of money each month to be able to do what you want with it?
Paying off your debt should be a priority! Not only is it taking your money each month but if you’re just paying the minimums each month you’re probably only covering the interest fees.
Check out these resources to help you get out of debt and free up more money in your budget:
- How to Get Out of Debt When You Have No Money
- 5 Ways to Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt
- Debt Snowball Versus Debt Avalanche: Which is Better?
Keep at it!
If you’re still having trouble balancing the budget, it’s important to keep at it until you have a system that makes you feel comfortable.
With the right techniques, a budget can be the tool that brings you freedom! Staying within your budget does not have to be difficult.
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