The majority of budgets begin after we realize that our careless spending, lack of saving and enslavement to convenience has created the perfect storm of financial destruction— and now, after feeling the financial consequences, you’ve come to the conclusion that creating a budget is absolutely crucial for improving the health of your finances, both current and future.
Keeping Yourself Accountable While Budgeting
Mastering the basics of budgeting is simple. With so many resources readily available, the difficulty lies not in how to create a budget, but how to maintain accountability in sticking to said budget.
Like unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions, budgets often fall to the wayside. While the good intent is there, the excitement of reaching this seemingly unattainable goal falls flat once intention meets implementation. In a drastic turn, you begin to doubt why you even began and quickly fall back into old habits. But doing this with our budget could mean more than just a forgotten resolution; It could mean the inability to buy your first home, pay off debt or even help your child attend college.
To stay on track with your budget, follow these easy steps:
Schedule Daily Reminders
Budget Tip: Schedule daily reminders in your phone.
Your phone is in your hand constantly. In fact, you are probably reading this article on your phone right now. According to DigitalTrends.com, 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone. Of those, 10 percent say it is their only medium for accessing the internet. Another 15 percent say they have limited access to other sources outside of their smart phone.
These days, smartphones and phone accessories are used for just about everything, so why not use them to help with budgeting? Scheduling reminders in your phone can be used as daily notifications to remind you of your budget and goals. Sometimes just having a simple reminder can prevent you from making pointless credit card charges and result in more money to your savings account.
Money Management Apps
Budgeting Tip: Use mobile apps to help manage your budget.
Many consumers find themselves overwhelmed with their budget. Trying to keep up with spreadsheets and other documents can feel like a chore. Mobile applications can change all of that. With a money management app, you can track your budget through your smartphone. For most, it is more convenient to use an interactive app than punch numbers into a spreadsheet. So after taking a minute to check your fantasy football lineup, pull up one of these apps and evaluate your budget.
Keep A Budget Diary
Budget Tip: Keep a budget journal to track your progress and make notes.
It sounds a little weird, right? Actually, it’s really not weird at all. In fact, it’s one method that many health enthusiasts use to keep themselves accountable when trying to get fit.
Writing things down can help you manage your thoughts, outline your daily activities and help you notice any financial mishaps that occurred throughout the day. Once there is a visual representation of the good decisions you made, you can map out all of your purchases and payments and view how those transactions affected your budget. The more that you can see how your good decisions are working, the more you will want to stick with your budget.
Check Your Accounts Daily
Fitness Tip: Review your accounts almost daily. Seeing success provides motivation.
Know Your Numbers! Specific numbers, like your balances, payments, interest rates and savings, should be information that you can recite on command. You can accomplish this by checking all of your accounts daily— but beware, this is where automatic payments can hurt you. The convenience of not having to check your account can prevent you from knowing your numbers. When you begin to feel comfortable knowing the payment will come out each month without fail, you may stop keeping track. Steer clear of automatic payments and instead get into the habit of checking your accounts to understand how your payments are affecting the balance and interest of your account.
Checking your accounts online can help you see the effects of your budgeting. While the funds in your banking account grow, you will see credit balances decrease and your credit score increase. At this point, you can rest assured that all of your hard work is paying off (pun intended).
Practice Makes Progress
Don’t get discouraged if you occasionally slip up. The truth is, everybody does. The important thing to focus on is your purpose for budgeting and what your ultimate goals are. With these tools, you can work on keeping yourself accountable, track your progress and interact with your budget daily.