Budgeting (MP) You created a budget because you have both short and long term goals. You want a better car, bigger home or maybe it’s time to purchase that vacation condo in Belize. However, your plan concerning that big expense is seemly drifting away because you’re having a hard time staying on budget. You don’t need a new budgeting plan but a plan to the budget. Creating a budget can be a frustrating task. Keeping to it can be even harder. Once you’ve created your budget, it’s important to stick to it.
It’s easy to understand how careful budgeting can improve a financial situation. And we all know that fewer financial problems mean less stress. But here’s one of the best benefits: Working together on a budget can help your marriage. With money arguments being one of the largest causes of divorce, managing your budget can relieve financial stress on your marriage and make your life better all around.
Here are some tips that can help you stay on budget and get ahead of the game:
How to Be On Budget – On Time
1. Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind
Perhaps you want to own your home free and clear, with no mortgage attached. Maybe you want to send your children to college without burdening them with student loans, pay for your child’s wedding, or start a business, so you can pursue a higher-paying, but satisfying alternative career.
Whatever your “reasons,” keep it at the forefront of your mind. Hang photos representing your “goals” throughout your home. Constantly remind yourself of the bigger picture you’re aiming to reach.
2. Track Your Spending
Look through your budget and all your receipts. Can you find an expense that can be cut? Maybe you could bring your lunch to work twice a week, or set up a carpool with a friend. Just cutting out restaurant and gas costs can help increase the amount of money you have available for savings and purchases.
3. Put Away Those Credit Cards
If you have credit card debt, pay it off. You can get ahead by choosing the card with the highest interest rate — and paying it off first. Then, choose the cards by the next highest interest rate until you pay off all credit cards. Then, select one card to use and put the others away.
4. Check Your Budget Regularly
Do you balance your checkbook regularly? If not, it’s a good habit to start. If you’re on a tight budget, a couple of small mistakes can lead to overdraft charges and insufficient funds in your account. If you balance up every time you get a bank statement, you can make sure your ledger stays in the black.
5. Imagine Your Golden Years
Studies have shown that people who are adept at visualizing themselves as senior citizens tend to save more for retirement than people who don’t. You can download a free app from the iTunes Store called “Age My Face,” which allows you to digitally age a photograph of your face. Merrill Edge also has a free program called Face Retirement, which offers the same service. Getting a glimpse of yourself as a senior citizen might motivate you to save for retirement (And as a bonus, you may also be more motivated to wear sunblock, drink water, and stay on budget).