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This Is the Year, the Year You Stick to Your Budget, Here’s How

How many times have you started a new diet or workout routine only to ditch it a week later? Unfortunately, for many, the same thing happens when trying to build healthy financial habits such as budgeting. Yep, creating healthy habits that last is a real challenge.

However, I know you can do it, and trust me, the effort is well worth it!

Being financially healthy is just as important as being physically healthy. Here are 5 tips to help make this the year you finally stick to your budget.

#1 – Consider the benefits of budgeting.

Budgeting isn’t just a form of adult mental torture akin to doing your taxes. There are actually benefits to creating and sticking to a budget. For example, consistently budgeting can help you spot abnormalities or mistakes in your bills.

Another great benefit of budgeting is it can help you achieve your financial goals. For example, maybe you and the hubby have been dreaming of a tropical vacation or need to save money for little Jane’s college tuition. Budgeting can help with that.

By thinking about the benefits of budgeting (financial security and success) instead of the act of budgeting (boring and time consuming), you’re more likely to stick to it!

Bonus tip: If you’re a visual person, consider making a dream board that depicts your financial goals such as pictures of white sand beaches, a big wedding, or college campuses. Put the dream board somewhere prominent. Seeing your financial goals day in and day out may help you stay motivated.

#2 – Start small with just tracking.

Truth: Most of us aren’t huge fans of change. Don’t decide to start a budget and make major changes, such as ditching all of your “luxury” expenses, in the same month. That’s a sure way to set yourself up for failure.

Instead, start with just tracking your expenses. No judgement. No restrictions. Just document what you’re spending each month. Be detailed with this tracking. Don’t lump everything into one or two categories like “bills” and “entertainment.” Nope, break it down and keep track for 2-3 months.

Once you can consistently see where your money is going you can start making appropriate adjustments.

#3 – Work on your terms.

When it comes to budgeting, go with your flow, so to speak. In other words, do what works for you.

If you’re a techy who enjoys putting apps and spreadsheets to work, embrace that. Look for online applications that can help you budget (ex. mint.com) or use Excel based free printable budget sheets.

If you’re “old fashioned” (I actually prefer the term “classic”) and prefer a pen and paper, go with it!. There are tons of free printable budget binder downloads out there.

Basically, make budgeting fit your work style. Don’t try to conform to what other people think is the best method. The easier you can make budgeting the more likely you are to stick with it.

Bonus tip: In the interest of making budgeting as easy as possible, I highly recommend automating whenever and wherever possible. For example, you can set many of your bills up to automatically be deducted from your bank account. You may also be able to set up automatic deposits to a savings account or retirement fund.

#4 – Consider asking for peer pressure.

Some people are motivated by others. For example, having a workout buddy can ensure you actually put that gym membership to use. If you’re one of these people, consider asking for a little peer pressure to help you stick to your budget. This can be as simple as telling your BFF you’re committed to sticking to a budget and asking her to check in on you now and then.

#5 – Reward yourself for good behavior.

Depriving yourself of everything you love for the rest of your life is not the makings of a healthy financial habit (or dietary habit, for that matter). If you do that, you will quickly come to resent your budget and it won’t be long before you’re tossing it in the trash.

Instead, set milestones for yourself that come with rewards. These rewards don’t have to be a big deal. They might be something small like treating yourself to a fancy coffee. Look for “treats” that you can use to motivate yourself to stick to your budget.

This is the year, the year you finally stick to your budget. Seriously, I believe in you! Utilize these 5 tips to stay motivated and build healthy financial habits that’ll last a lifetime!

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