How Do You Stay on a Budget?

Share Your Best Tips

We created a new budget for 2009, and so far it's been going well. It's never easy, but over the years, we've realized that there are certain tried and true ways that really work for us when we are trying to stick to a strict budget. They are not unusual or earth-shaking and you've probably heard them before, but they DO work...

The three key things that really work for us:

1) Making a realistic budget to begin with. It's tempting to make a super strict budget on paper, but if it is too lean, you'll go over budget, get discouraged and potentially throw in the towel altogether. It's best to push yourself but keep it in the realm of do-able.

2) Watching the little things. Whenever we track each small purchase for any period of time, we are surprised by how these really add up...the taxi rides, coffees and magazines make a dent. Being aware of just how much is spent on these non-essentials for a month gives us the "oomph" to really rein it in.

and the best one, by far...

3) Having a goal in mind at all times. This can be event based, like a vacation that you are saving for or a big purchase or project. It can also be accomplishment based, like hitting a "magic number" in your savings account or paying off a debt. Either way, focusing on this goal regularly and making plans to meet it makes it much easier to say no to spending that will interfere with getting there.

What do you do to help yourself stay on a budget? Share your tips below...

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