10 Smart Ideas to Help You Stick to Your Budget

Your morning latte from Starbucks, those pricey dinners out, that new outfit you just had to have– these may seem like small purchases but together, they can add up and derail you from sticking to your budget.

It can be difficult to avoid these purchases, but it is not impossible. You can outsmart these tricky temptations and stick to your budget by following these ten steps:

Set your spending and saving goals.

What is it that you really want to achieve with your money? Is it to get out of debt? Buy a house or a car? Or simply to have enough for daily necessities and the occasional discretionary purchases? Whatever your goals may be, make sure that you articulate them. Determine how much money you’ll really need to save or spend and exactly when. These goals will help keep you motivated and focused.

Track your spending.

Save those receipts, write down every purchase from lattes to cab rides, and list those bills. This may be a bit daunting at first, but eventually it can become a habit that will help you identify and trim down those unnecessary expenditures.

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Establish an emergency fund.

One of the most common things that can destroy a carefully planned budget are emergencies or surprise expenditures. Protect your budget from these surprise expenses by establishing an emergency fund.

Be aware of advertising tricks.

Do not be fooled or tempted by the lures of advertisements. Know their tricks so you can easily say no to their offerings.

Plan and prepare before purchasing anything.

Before you visit the store, make a list of the things you really need to buy and make sure you stick to that list. If it’s a big-ticket item you’re planning to buy, make sure you do some research on it: the best places to buy it, the lowest price you can get for it, coupons or discounts for it, etc.

Question your purchases.

Do you really need to buy those extras? Are you perhaps making an impulse buy? Do you really want to be the person who spends so much money on trivial or unhealthy things? Are you just buying these things out of peer pressure or a passing fad? Is there no other, more affordable option to this? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you decide on buying something you may not actually need.

Let time help you out.

Before you purchase anything, consider the time it would take to earn enough to be able to afford that item. Would you really be willing to spend 5 more hours at work just to afford those concert tickets? If this doesn’t work, give yourself some time. Give yourself at least a night to think it over, and if at the end of it you rationally decide that you really need it, then that’s the time you can buy it.

Resolve to follow proven and tested budgeting tips.

We’ve all heard of them. It’s time to actually put them to practice. Some of the most effective ones: “Live below your means,” “Prepare and pack your meals instead of buying them,” and “Use cash instead of credit.”

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Get a partner to help you.

If you find it difficult to stick to your budget through your own efforts, get a partner to help you. This could be your spouse, a trusted friend or family member who is willing to keep you accountable for your spending.

Reward yourself modestly.

You shouldn’t splurge, but you shouldn’t deprive yourself completely either. When you’re able to stick to your budget or end up having a little extra within a certain time period, reward yourself with little treats like renting a movie, or buying a fancy cup of coffee or your favorite dessert. These little rewards can go a long way in helping you stay focused on the greater goal.

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