Staying in Budget

Start by making a budget. The best way is to look back the past three months and make an average of your past three months spending and use that as a place to begin. Once you have found averages for each category you spend in, look at the balances, is this more than your regular monthly income? If so, start cutting. 

1. List your budget categories, most important to least important. 

2. Start cutting budget balances from the bottom and work your way up. Still not enough?

3. Is this a once in a while issue or every month? If it is every month you can do one of two things, cut expenses or earn more income. If you cannot downsize car or house, look at getting a side gig. Sell anything that you can. Look into a career change or schooling change. Get creative. It will be hard, but you can do it. 

4. Trying to find extra money to save for a goal or trip? Start by making a list of categories that you could get creative with and go without for one month. Maybe you don't eat out for a month, walk more for a month, iron your on clothing, eat out of the pantry and freezer for a month. Skip a new outfit for the month. Once you have a list of things you could go without for a month, assign each to a month for the year. 

January- Don't eat out 

February- Don't buy clothes

March- Don't dry clean clothes

April- Don't go grocery shopping

Take these amounts you would have budgeted to these categories and put them into your savings account. You can go without for one month, but if you limit yourself too often, your budget will feel restrictive and you will give up on budgeting. Do these with a goal in mind and know it is not forever.

5. Cash, Cash, Cash. If you have a hard time staying in your budget, take the few categories that you always seem to go over, and take the cash out of your account and put it in a paperclip or an envelope in your wallet or purse. When it comes time to spend in these categories, spend the cash. When it is gone, it is gone. If you still spend over what you should, try getting rid of whatever you are using to overspend. If its your debit card and you spend out of other categories, try only carrying cash. If you are using a credit card, cut it up, hide it, cancel it.

Being financially responsible is hard, but it is something only you can make yourself do. Your spouse or your parents can't make you do it. Only you can commit. If you are having a hard time being committed, try setting a goal to loose weight and start exercising daily. This can help you learn self control and that will carry over to your financial goals as well. Working out seems to give more immediate results and the feel good endorphins should help you feel like you can tackle your financial future. 

For more help with budgeting check out my Family Finance Planners. Level 1 helps you tackle debt and begin budgeting.

Level 2 helps you dig deeper and plan more specific spending for the year. Check it out at:


Family Finance Planner - Level 3 - Wealth Accumulation
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By Victoria Smith
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