When setting up a new budget, it is often difficult to truly stick with it and make positive financial change. But these four keys to remaining within a budget might help you to stay motivated and keep your spending on track.
1. Realistic Budgeting for Life
Just like implementing a new diet, you want to make sure that a budget is realistic for your lifestyle. Creating a budget will involve some huge changes, but it is important to come up with something that you can actually stick to get your finances healthy for the long run.
For instance, be proactive in identifying ways that you can do for fun without spending tight funds. There are plenty of free activities in the community or your own backyard that you can enjoy in place of expensive opportunities which prove unaffordable at the moment. Some fun things to do include:
- Free concerts in the local park
- Walking around a local farmer’s market
- Going for a hike or bike ride
- Checking out free museums, parks and galleries
This is a practical way to implement life changes that will actually work.
2. Avoid Credit Cards
Many consumers have wallets bursting with credit cards from their bank card to their favorite clothing store’s charge card. These plastic squares usually promise special perks for using them such as discounts, frequent flier miles or other points systems. And the most obvious draw is that they offer free mini loans when you don’t have the cash available at that moment.
But because of their incredible ease and convenience, credit cards can also be dangerous. They often enable spending when in reality there is no full account to pay for the purchases. A 2001 study from the Sloan School of Management at MIT discovered that “willingness-to-pay can be increased when customers are instructed to use a credit card rather than cash.”
The idea that credit cards encourage spending has been around for years. There is just something less painful about swiping a piece of plastic that relieves you from the agony of forking over cash and seeing the literal money leave your hands. As a result, customers who use credit cards “make larger purchases per department store visit” and people using a card are willing to pay higher prices then when using cash.
So the moral here is that making yourself use cash, despite the relative inconvenience, is a good idea if you want to reduce spending and think more seriously about purchases.
3. An App for Keeping Track
A great way to be reminded about necessary spending, the New York Times recommends several specialized apps for tracking bills to help remind you when payments are due and being withdrawn from your account. Available for both android and iOS, these unique apps help you input information to keep you on top of your finances. Many are available for free or a small fee and can also sync amongst your multiple devices.
4. Resolving Short-Term Loans
An important step in working towards creating a better budget and working towards financial security is to begin by taking care of any short-term loans you still owe. Companies like TitleBucks can be great for helping you out with immediate cash in a tight situation. However, many short-term loans are also high interest and have a rapid turn around time. Start by resolving these sorts of monthly payments and then working to pay off the bigger payments. And seeing the success of completing a loan will help motivate you to continue budgeting for success.