Does this sound familiar? You created a monthly budget and set your goals, yet every month you seem to be exceeding your spending limits. We get it, emergencies happen (was that new pair of shoes really an emergency?) but why is it that you cannot seem to stay on track? The reality is, your budget and goals may be unrealistic and unreachable.
The first step in learning how to stick to a monthly budget is to do your homework. Gather all your financial statements, receipts, etc. This will allow you to see the full scope of your normal spending habits. From there, create a list of monthly expenses and then total them. If your monthly income exceeds your spending, there is potential for you to save. Set up a savings account with your bank and allocate a portion of your monthly income to that account each month, most banks can even set this up to happen automatically.
However, if your monthly income is less than your spending, you need to make some cuts. Go over your budget to determine the opportunities to save. For example, when was the last time you received an insurance quote? Can you save on your cable bill by switching to a less expensive plan?
As you move forward,it is necessary to keep track of your purchases; keeping a list will help you stay up-to-date on your financial situation. Another important consideration is to avoid impulse buying. We know, it is difficult; however, you will never be able to save money unless you address this issue. Try using cash instead of debit or credit cards; it is difficult to hand over a stack of cash because it is a tangible item unlike the money coming from your debit card.
Most importantly, keep your goals in mind. Motivate yourself by setting short-term goals; the small victories will keep you moving toward your ultimate long-term goals. Remember to re-evaluate your budget from time to time to make sure you are sticking with the plan, and adjust where necessary as your financial situation changes.