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In spite of the best intentions, many people have a hard time setting up a budget in the first place and an even harder time sticking to it. If you are one of the many Americans who resolved to set up a budget for the year or even splurged on budgeting tools or budget software, stay with it. Here are five tips financial experts rely on to stay true to their budgets.
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Think About Why You Overspend
One way to stop overspending before it even begins is to explore why it might be happening in the first place. Some people have subconscious triggers that might push them to spend more money than they should, and finding those triggers is a great way to get started combatting behavioral overspending. We all succumb to emotional spending from time to time. But being aware of your emotions and any potential triggers can help you avoid purchases that could negatively affect your bottom line.
Exploring the reasons you overspend is just a start. You should also explore the reasons you want to limit your spending. Cutting down on spending can be difficult, but having a goal in mind can help. This might seem obvious but many people don’t know how to set specific and achievable goals.
To set realistic goals, concentrate on just one or two at a time. Financial goals will vary from person to person, but the main idea is to create an achievable goal and remind yourself of it daily. Consciously remembering your goal throughout the day can help you make progress toward it.
Switch to Cash
Carrying a debit or credit card might seem easy and convenient, and it often is, but that convenience can come back to haunt you if you aren’t careful. Many studies have shown that credit cards tend to make people spend more money. One reason is because there’s less emotional impact when you swipe a card instead of removing cash from your wallet. If you want to cut down on spending, it might be worth the extra hassle to carry cash.
Save Before You Spend
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to save what’s left over at the end of the month instead of saving money first. Paying yourself first ensures you’ve saved at least some money every month. And if you do happen to have money left over at the end of the month, you can save even more.
Start a Savings Challenge
Joining a savings challenge with some of your friends or family members can provide instant accountability to help you avoid overspending and increase your savings. If you can’t find any challenges floating around social media, make your own. One idea is to do a 365-day savings challenge. This challenge begins by saving just $0.01 on the first day and incrementing the amount by $0.01 every day thereafter until you complete one year. For example, if you started on New Year’s Day, you’d save $0.01 on January 1, $0.02 on January 2, $0.03 on January 3, and so on until December 31, when you’d save $3.65. This challenge doesn’t seem too difficult but adds up to $667.95 at the end of a year. It’s a great first challenge for those unaccustomed to saving money.
Ultimately, cutting spending and increasing savings doesn’t have to be a drag. With these tips you can avoid overspending, stick to your budget, and even have some fun while improving your financial situation.