5 Daily Reminders To Help You Keep on Budget

5WaystoStayonBudget

While I’m taking a bit of a hiatus this summer to write a book proposal and an ebook, I’ve invited a few people to guest post. Here’s Cassy from Credit Donkey sharing some tips for staying on budget.

If you’re anything like me, you need a little help sometimes staying on budget. Right now, I’m hanging out with a cup of coffee from good ole “Fivebucks,” which I really didn’t need to buy. In fact, that one small purchase pushed me a bit over budget in one area.

Why did I make the purchase, then? Well, I sort of forgot where I was at in the “dining out” portion of my budget. So now I have to scale back on something else in order to afford this cup of Joe I’m already enjoying.

It’s not that big a deal, but little things like this can add up over time. Maybe I need to use a few of these reminders to help me stay on budget:

1. Check your bank account balance

If you’re living on a tight budget and don’t have much of a pad in your checking account, you’re not alone. Lots of us in this tough economy are living paycheck to paycheck, which means there’s not much in-between to work with. In fact, the national average checking account balance is just under $3,000.

Checking in on your checking account balance daily is easy if your bank offers online and mobile account balance information. And keeping tabs on how much cash you have on hand can deter unnecessary spending – especially if that balance begins to dip below a comfortable level.

2. Track your credit card swipes

It’s easy when using a credit card to forget how much you’re spending, but you don’t want to fall into this financial trap. Whether you are using a credit card at the gas pump, or using a card to save money on grocery shopping trips, you still want to stick to budget to avoid paying hefty interest fees down the road.

So keep a notebook handy, and track your credit card spending each time you make a purchase. It doesn’t take long, and you can enter that information in your budget spreadsheet once you get home.

3. Use budgeting apps

There are literally hundreds of budgeting apps available today, and you may want to check out one of these money management apps to help you stick to your budget. Some of the more advanced apps actually download transactions automatically, so you don’t have to even write them down. Others simply help you keep track of where your money is going.

Budgeting apps on your phone can be particularly helpful for controlling day-to-day spending, since they allow you to check your balances and budgets on a minute-by-minute basis, if necessary.

4. Post a picture of your goals

One thing that keeps me going on my budget – and generally steering clear of expensive coffee shops – is keeping my goals in mind. I’m currently saving to buy a home. What’s your big financial goal to work towards?

Whether it’s being debt-free, going on vacation, or even something as simple as having an emergency fund, keeping the end goal in mind can help boost your will to stay on budget. Post a picture or a saying about your goal on your fridge, by your computer, or on your desk at work to keep these goals constantly in mind.

5. Set a reasonable budget

This tip actually begins at the beginning: when you’re setting your budget. If you find yourself constantly going over budget in certain budget categories, the problem may actually just be your budget.

Sometimes in our zeal to save more and spend less, we set unreasonable budget restrictions we just can’t meet. Now, if you’re constantly overspending on shoes you don’t need or on frothy, expensive coffee drinks, the problem probably lies in your self-discipline.

But if you’re spending more than you budgeted on your grocery bill, gas, utilities, or other necessary expenses, you may just need to re-examine your budget. Allocating more money to these problem areas can give you a more reasonable goal to meet, while still helping you save money.

Before I swipe my card at the Starbucks drive through, I’ll now have to contend with a mental picture of my dream house – and I’ll check that possibly low checking account balance. Which of these five tips will you use to stay on budget this week?

Cassy blogs about personal finance and how to be more financially savvy at CreditDonkey. For more information, please check out their website at http://www.creditdonkey.com/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CreditDonkey


Comments

  1. Great ideas! I also like to focus my efforts on recurring expenses. Cut them once by doing some research and then see the savings repeat each month. I just wrote about how I cut our home insurance bill in half. Research up front, then put it out of my mind for a whole year.
    Leanne recently posted…Saving money on house insuranceMy Profile

  2. For the Christian he or she should be guided by Malachi 3:10. God asks us to TEST him in this verse (I have found no other verse where we are specifically asked to test God, more often we are warned NOT to test God). He promises to give us more than we could imagine IF we first give Him a full tithe from our first fruits. Years ago God challenged me about this, I was giving, but far less than 10%. I began to tithe the full 10% cheerfully and gladly from my first fruits, which I take to be GROSS income before ANY deductions. Since then I have never gone short and have been able to make offerings above the 10% tithe with annual increases to around 20%. Now, I do not give to receive but that is how God works; but I had first to take the step of faith and give what to me seemed beyond my ability. I know of a someone who gives over 35% and still lives comfortably because he gives from pure motives. There is great joy in giving to God’s work. I believe the tihe should go to your home church but the excess you may give where you wish; there are many worthwhile Christian and secular charities.

  3. Great advice Sheila! I’m an Accountant and have been using Mint.com to moniter my finances. It’s an amazing and totally safe tool that is put out by the makers QuickBooks. All my bank and credit card transactions are downloaded automatically and categorized into accounts so I can see where my money is going. I can view transactions, pie graphs and budget progress at a glance. I use the iphone and ipad apps as well as logging in on the web for more extensive information. It is a free service because they make money by reffering users to various financial services, which I have not found to be bothersome.

  4. KellyK(@RNCCRN9706) says:

    I think that being a good steward of what God has given us is a good idea. I am always referring to Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette for ways to be a good steward. Too much money is wasted on disposable items like paper towels, paper plates, etc. I’m trying to convince DH that we don’t NEED to buy those things because it’s such a money waster when there are PLENTY of Corelle and dishtowels around to be used. It’s cheaper to wash those items than to keep buying disposable ones. Not to mention how many trees it saves!

  5. Great article. Thanks!

    I actually disagree with the idea of checking the account balance to determine spending is not a good idea. The is the way my husband and I functioned for the first 21 years of our marriage and it was very stressful. Much better is to set up a budget based on money you actually have (not are going to get) and use that as your guide. The danger in checking your account balance is that some money is sitting in there to be used in the near (or not near) future. For example, if you have $1500 in your account, you may need $300 is for groceries, $800 for bills including mortgage, $200 for gasoline and $200 for future car repairs and you look at your account to see if you can get that Wii system you’ve been wanting, you’d see $1500 and think you were in good shape. However, once you’ve bought your groceries, your gas and paid your bills, if you need to do a car repair, you’ll be in trouble because you’ve spent money that should have been left to sit for that purpose.

    Our financial life has been transformed from extremely stressful to peaceful by learning this lesson among many others from using http://www.youneedabudget.com. I can’t stress how much of a relief it was for us to find it. They have a very generous 34 day trial that is the full version, for anyone who might like to try it, and they offer fantastic support, including free online classes, even for free trial customers. I do not work for them — I just love them so much that I wanted to share a bit of what I learned. <3
    ChristineG recently posted…Almost Time…My Profile

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