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Posts Tagged Staying on budget

Checking in With Your Budget

When we first started budgeting many years ago, the biggest mistake we made was that we never took the time to check in with our budget. I was under the false assumption that once the budget was written everything would just magically fall into place. This was certainly not the case.

Our financial picture only started to turn around when we not only made our monthly budget, but more importantly, began regularly checking in to make sure we were sticking to the budget. Let’s look at some of the ways you can manage your budget on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Budget Check In

Daily Budget Check Ins:

If you love your smartphone, you’re about to love it even more when it comes to sticking with your budget. With many apps available, you will be able to establish and manage your budget on a daily basis while on the go.

One of my personal favorite apps is Mint. It’s user friendly and you can link up your bank accounts free of charge, allowing you to track your spending in the various categories of your budget which you can also create using this app.

Everydollar and You Need A Budget are two other budgeting apps available to use. For a yearly fee you can link these apps to your banking information. The one advantage of these apps is that you can have two people access the same budget which is great for both you and your spouse to stay in the know.

My one complaint with the budgeting apps is that the purchases made aren’t always categorized correctly so you do have to go in and edit as necessary.

budget pen calculator

Weekly Check Ins:

Since I’m a paper and pencil girl at heart, this is my go to. Every Friday I’ll sit down with my online bank statements from that week, receipts, and my budget and start entering in what I’ve spent and add it to the previous week’s spending. This weekly check in allows me to see where we are in each of the budget categories and how much room is left.

 

Monthly Consolidation:

This is the most important step when checking in with your budget. At the very least you want to make sure you consolidate your budget at the end of every month before the next month begins.

When consolidating my monthly budget, I’ll add up the total amount of income and subtract all expenses. At this point I can ensure that we didn’t overspend, and that with any luck, more money came in then went out. Any money left over we then put toward our debts until all of our debt was paid off.

stay on budget

Once you start paying attention to your budget and track your spending, you’ll really feel as if you got a raise. Paying attention will cause you to spend within your means, if not below your means, freeing up a lot of the money that would have slipped through your fingers to now put towards a more important financial goal.

 

Your Turn!

  • How often do you check in with your budget?

Using Cash to Stay on Budget

When I was young my mom used to joke that cash would burn a hole in my pocket, if I had cash on me, I felt the urge to spend it. Needless to say then, I was a little apprehensive to use cash to stay on budget, but since making the switch I would never go back to using plastic.

cash is king

Why Cash is King

  1. Psychological: When you spend cash, research has found that you feel it more than when you swipe a card. It hurts a bit more when you see your hard earned money leaving your hand, which means that you’re less likely to purchase things that you don’t really need.
  2. Easier to stick to your budget: When the cash is gone it’s gone so you know when it’s time to stop spending. Our cash categories include groceries, personal spending money, clothing, as well as setting aside money for any smaller miscellaneous expenses (think field trip notices from the school or birthday party gifts). When my personal spending money is gone, I know that it’s time to hold back on spending any more money until the next month. paying with cash
  3. No risk of going into debt: I know several people that swear by their credit cards because of the points that they get. I also know that nobody signs up for a credit card with the intention of getting deep into debt, but the reality is, according to statistics, the average card carrying American household owes $16,048. If you commit to using cash, you don’t have to worry about overspending and dreading the monthly credit card statement.
  4. Delayed Gratification: Spending cash means that there are times that you will need to save up for a bit before making a larger purchase. This will give you some time to really think through the purchase and decide if it is in fact something that you want to do. If you decide that you do want to invest the time to save up and pay cash, you leave with with not only your purchase, but a great feeling of knowing that you were financially responsible, did not act impulsively, and know that you were able to do it without going into debt.
  5. Less Guilt: Imagine what it would be like to go shopping without any guilt at all.  When spending with plastic, it’s easier to make impulsive purchases because you don’t feel as if you’re parting with your money which puts you in a position where you’ve come home with unplanned items and guilt. When you budget and use cash, you are giving yourself permission to spend which means nothing but guilt-free shopping trips.jar with coins
  6. *BONUS* The Change Jar = Extra Savings: When you use cash for your daily and weekly purchases, you are going to end up with a lot of spare change. Put this change into a jar and you’ll be amazed at how much you have saved up by the end of the year without even realizing it. Last year I managed to save up enough coins to cash in $160 which paid for my daughter’s Christmas stocking stuffers!!

Your Turn:

  • What categories could you use cash for to help you stick to your budget?
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