How to stick to your budget

Are you struggling with finding ways to stick to your budget? It can be really tough.

Not only does it take time to figure out how to use a budget and apply it to your lifestyle, but then you need to learn how to stick to your budget so that you don’t end up right where you started.

At some point, everyone will struggle with that bottom line. Whether it is making enough to pay your bills, or simply stopping your bad spending habits, we all struggle with budget guidelines at some point or another.

Below you will find a few tips to help you learn how to stick to your budget even when it feels impossible.

{Related: 2017 Budget Binder Worksheets}

How To Stick To Your Budget

How To Stick To Your Budget

Most of these tips are reminders that are going to be things you already should know about budgeting. However, we often forget or overlook things that we think are just easy to manage.  

In doing that, we fall into traps that derail our desire to stick to a functional budget.  

Have good communication with your spouse.  If you are in a relationship of any kind with joint finances, you need good communication. This could be a husband, wife, long term partner, business partner, or even a roommate and friend. If you are working toward paying bills together, then you need good communication.

  • Make your budget together.  Even if one person is going to be in charge of paying bills and managing money, making your budget together is a must. Both parties need to understand what is coming in and going out. Even just a basic understanding is vital to both the relationship and your budget goals.
  • Understand and recognize the other partner’s weaknesses.  This is the hard part.  There are going to be situations where one person is the spender and one the saver.  You have to be honest with each other about this and make choices about your budget to keep this from being a problem. Giving one partner an allowance or even taking away access to credit and debit cards can help, but it can also cause a lot of tension and arguments. This is why it is vital to keep open communication. This isn’t a way to control your partner, but to control your finances better. Using an envelope cash system for paying bills can work in this situation, or at least help the spender understand more about how their actions impact the budget as a whole.
  • Set standards for purchases.  If you have a budget where multiple people have access to the funds, it is important to set up a standard for purchases. This includes things like major and trivial purchases.  If you have a spender and a saver in the relationship, it can be tough to work together. That’s why standards or guidelines work well.  Designating specific amounts to talk about first, or giving one person authority over debit card expenses can help.

Allow yourself a splurge budget.  This little addition to a budget can be what makes or breaks you. If you really want to know how to stick to your budget and you happen to be a spender, this is the trick. Make sure you actually allow yourself the luxury of having money to splurge on items.  This budget can be as little as $5 a week or as much as $100 a month.  

The amount will depend upon your budget needs and personal finances. However, the idea is the same.  

Stop depriving yourself of everything. Give yourself a small amount of wiggle room that will help you curb your spending habits while not feeling like you are overly controlled or in a box.  This, as mentioned above, works exceptionally well in homes where you have a spender and a saver struggling to come together on budgets.

{Related: How to Splurge & Save at the Same Time}

Remove temptations from your hands.  We’ve all been told to cut up the credit card. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but I do however, think that you can use some alternatives below to make it functional to help you stick to your budget.  

  • Lock it away.  I don’t actually recommend cutting up the card itself, but definitely putting them out of your wallet. Keeping credit accounts and credit cards tucked away for emergency use only is a must if you are trying to stick to your budget. Lock your extra credit cards into your safe and only get them out when you absolutely need them.
  • Use the envelope method. Another option for those who struggle with debit cards and checking accounts is to use the popular Dave Ramsey envelope method.  Use cash to pay bills, do your shopping, and have a spending money. When that envelope is empty, you have no more money for the month to spend. This helps those chronic shoppers curb habits fast.  

Set goals that motivate you.  One of the best ways to stick to your budget is to have a goal.  As with anything in life, motivation goes a long way toward staying with any program. Doing the same thing for your finances can be all you need to really stick with the budget plan.  

  • Pay off a specific debt.
  • Make a large purchase you want.
  • Go on a vacation.
  • Make investments for the future.
  • Buy a new wardrobe.
  • Upgrade your wedding sets.
  • Put your children into private schools.

All of these things are options that people have used as a goal that is motivation to stick with a budget plan.  Sometimes, we have to be realistic and accept that without a goal, we just won’t have the motivation to keep it up.  Being honest with yourself is a key to sticking to your budget.

Get honest.  Much like I just mentioned, this is really the key to success. Get honest with yourself and your spouse about where you are financially. Until you accept your own bad habits, address them, and make a plan, you will get nowhere. A budget is not just a way to track expenses, but to get past bad habits.  Whether you are using this as a way to get out of debt, track your expenses, or hold each other accountable doesn’t matter. Without honesty, it just won’t work.
These tips for how to stick to your budget are much needed for most families and even individuals.  While some are classic reminders, others may be a new outlook you need.  What’s stopping you from sticking to your budget?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Having an “Oh $hit” category in our budget as well as budgeting in spending money each week has helped us tremendously in staying on track with our budget. Also, remembering that it is a living document; things change and things happen and we just have to roll with it!

  2. The envelope method help a lot! Except for the bills. We’ve realized setting bill payment on autopilot actually saves money. For each bill we pay with cash, there’s a $2 commission fee. It’s an insignificant amount, but it ads up!

    I do believe in a weekly “allowance” though. Always having cash in our wallets helps a great deal. It’s difficult to spend more than you budgeted for if you don’t actually have the cash available!

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