A budget is like a fitness program. It’s a tool for achieving your goals. And, like a fitness program, no matter how good it looks on paper, it’s worthless unless executed on a consistent basis. That takes discipline. And, yes, sometimes it’s harder than we might like to stick to the plan.
Here are three ways to bolster your efforts to live within your budget:
- Envelopes – Yes, envelopes. At the start of the week, withdraw enough cash to cover your budgeted weekly spending. Place the money allotted to cover each category in an envelope – “lunch,” “gas,” “haircut,” “groceries,” et cetera. When you need to spend money take the cash from the appropriate envelop. When it’s gone, it’s gone. This system makes spending money a very real experience, something we have lost with debit cards and other forms of digital payment.
- Stash the credit card – If you aren’t carrying it, you can’t whip it out for that impulse buy, or to exceed your cash limit.
- Review your budget regularly – Look over your budget every few days. This will serve two purposes. First, it will help catch excessive spending early. Second, it will help you keep your eye on the prize by reminding you that your discipline and small sacrifices are in the service of making long-term dreams come true.