Living in Harmony with a Budget
Having something on paper that guides your spending is a great start to having a life free from financial worries. The problem lies with learning how to actually live within the budget you’ve created. It isn’t an easy task to change your spending behaviours. You are trying to break habits that have taken a lifetime to form. Here are some tips that may help keep you on track.
Write it down. Debit and credit card payments, while convenient, are difficult to track on a day to day basis if you don’t keep a running tab of your transactions. I’ve met many people who have a fistful of receipts in their pocket but have no idea of the total amount they have spent over the course of a month, nor what they have spent it on. Keeping receipts is only useful if you actually are conscious about what you bought, whether or not it was an item within budget, and how your expenditures add up.
Use cash. You may have seen a television program or two that forces people to live on a strict cash budget. This technique is not intended as a method of torture. It really is a very effective way to track your spending. If your cash is broken down by expense category, you can readily determine if you what you are about to spend is affordable. No cash means no purchase.
Review your expenses weekly. Spending has a way of becoming an automatic activity, especially when it is a routine purchase. You may be accustomed to filling the gas tank instead of sticking to a fixed amount. Limiting your gas purchase amount and being careful about how much you drive could save you hundreds of dollars a year. You may be someone who buys a morning cup of coffee and a muffin at a cost of $3.00 per day. By taking a look at your expenses on a weekly basis, you may come to realize that you spend $21.00 a week, $84.00 a month, or 1,092.00 a year on breakfast! Taking the time to review your expenditures is an eye-opening experience that could change your habits.
Make friends with your budget. Your budget shouldn’t be looked upon as something that interferes with the fun things in life. It likely will become the tool that enables you to have the cash for all those things you want to do. Your budget shouldn’t be so strict that you have no room for entertainment. Allocate enough within your budget to let you enjoy life while being conservative enough to feel confident you can pay the bills.