11 Ways to Stick to Your Budget

Budgeting is nothing to be afraid of – in fact, it could help you to afford more of the things you love, and less of the things you don’t! Gone are the days where a budget plan made you miserable – a great budget plan makes it easy to stick to your budget without feeling restricted. Even if you have fallen off the wagon before, there are now tons of tips, tricks and tools that you can use to make sure that you stick to your budget with ease. You might even find that budgeting becomes second nature!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

1. Remember the reason why you wanted to budget

You’re setting yourself up to fail if you start budgeting just for the sake of it. Do you want to save more money? Spend less? Have more control over your finances? Make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of budgeting and you’ll be more likely to stick to it and succeed.

2. Review your expenses

We tend to underestimate the amount we spend in our daily lives. For example, you might think that you spend £50 a month on new clothes, but it’s actually more like £120. Review your expenses from the last 3 months to get a true picture of how much you spend, and where you might be able to make cut backs. If your budget is too tight- you’re just going to feel restricted.

3. Decide on a budgeting method

There are lots of different budgeting methods out there which can help you when you’re trying to stick to a budget. Take a look at the 50 30 20 rule of budgeting and zero based budgeting. These are popular methods that have worked for many over the years and the 50 30 20 method is really easy to get started with and manage which will make budgeting much easier to stick with.

4. Use a spreadsheet

Use an Excel spreadsheet to help you calculate your spending and saving. Having all of your figures in one sheet makes you confront the numbers and gives you more knowledge about your financial position. Create a document where you have all of your savings, debt, and spending in one place and refer back to it on a regular basis.

5. Track your expenses

To successfully stick to a budget, you must track what you buy, and when. You must have good visibility of what is coming in and out of your account to make sure that you stay on budget.

6. Use a budgeting app

A budgeting app can be a brilliant tool to help you track your expenses. You could use an app offered by a challenger bank and have your budget and your bank account all tied into one product. This makes it really easy to track your expenses as they are automatically tracked and categorised for you. Take a look at Starling to get started – you can set payment alerts, categorised spending and create saving goals.

7. Use cash envelopes

Cash envelopes are a simple system which many people have had success with. The idea is that you withdraw your spending money for the week in cash. When all the cash is used up- that’s the end of your money! This can be an effective way to budget because you are partaking in a physical transaction when you use cash to pay for goods and services.

8. Try out a no-spend challenge

A no spend challenge can be very helpful if you are partial to spending out of boredom or out of lack of planning. The idea is that you might try and have 3 days a week where you don’t spend any money. This helps you to avoid small ‘top up’ purchases and convenience purchases and forces you to plan your spending better.

9. Plan spending in advance

If you have a friend’s wedding or a holiday coming up, plan this spending in advance and save up for the expense gradually to avoid a big hit to your bank account.

10. Make yourself accountable

Get yourself an accountability buddy- a friend or loved one who can help keep you on track. If they’re also trying to budget, this is a great way to encourage each other to stick to the budget.

11. Set financial goals

Setting financial goals is one of the most powerful ways of making yourself stick to a budget. If you have a big goal in mind such as buying your first home, this goal with trump any other miscellaneous spending and make you stick to your budget for good.

About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek and money nerd helping financial DIY-ers organise their money so they can hit their goals quicker.