Budgets has become a bit like vegetables. We all know we need it, but it’s got to be deep fried before we will actually use it. Budgets are intimidating and confusing, but they don’t have to be. Here are my 2 biggest tips for making a budget you can actually stick to.
Budgets need to be flexible
My budget, at least, has to be flexible. Some months we decide on the fly to do things like lake cookouts, or kids get sick and we end up have to drop $30 on fever reducer over a few days.
So we have a special section of our budget each month for “come what may”. Having a small amount put aside for unexpected expenses (this is separate from your emergency fund) each month can give us all a little bit of wiggle room that makes a budget seem doable over a long term.
Record Your Spending First
Listen, we can all estimate how much we spend on things like drive thru coffee or gas station sodas, but it will always been a bit of an underestimation. It’s the same with calories.
Before you start trying to build a budget, record all of your monthly income and spending, down to the penny.
Organize each purchase by type, and the data staring back at you may be embarrassing. So let’s say you buy two sodas a day from a vending machine at work. If each is $2 (20 oz sodas are $1.89 here), that’s $120/month.
By recording first, then building your budget, you can evaluate your purchases, find those that you can’t live without, and build a budget that you can stick to without feeling deprived.
Record your spending, build a realistic budget, leave a bit of wiggle room, and you have a real budget that’ll tempt you like ice cream instead of repel you like veggies.