Making a budget is a marvelous first step, but far too often that’s where the fairytale ends for most people. Let’s face it, finding budgets online is only a simple Google search away. The issue most of us have is figuring out how the heck to stick to it!
The reason so many people give up on using a budget is because the one they have created is far too rigid, intimidating, complicated and restrictive. Here are four quick steps to successful budgeting:
1. Attitude – First and foremost, your attitude toward creating a budget has to be healthy. If you think that budgets stink, then guess what? Your budgeting experience is going to stink! I usually have clients call their budgets something along the lines of a “Prosperity Plan” or “Wealth Building Map.” The title doesn’t matter as long as it gets you excited about managing and mastering your money!
2. Purpose – A budget should have a defined goal you would like to achieve within a specified time period. Having a goal in mind will help you keep focused when your discipline begins to feel like deprivation. Once utilizing your budget helps you obtain a goal, set another one. Never become complacent when there is always a goal you can be striving toward.
3. Simplicity – The more complicated you make the budgeting process, the less likely you will be willing to stick with it. Your budget should fit where you are at this stage in your life. Forget what your married girlfriend with three kids is using. Yours may not need to be as intense. Just list what directly deals with your situation and eliminate any additional fluff.
4. Flexibility – The budgeting process is designed to be flexible. You should recognize up front that your budget will change from month to month, and will require monthly review. For example, if you go over in one category, then it should be accounted for next month or greater efforts should be made to prevent it. Remember if you must increase in an area, then some other area must decrease. At no time can you have more going out then coming in. If you want to spend more, figure out a way to earn more. Don’t get frustrated; its basic math.
Look budgeting is simple, but you have to remember that there’s not a one size fits all approach. The point of using a budget is to help you tell your money where to go instead of looking up and wondering where it all went. Keep it simple, stay positive, always have a goal in mind and you’ll begin to make progress with your budget in no time.