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Why Can't I Stay on Budget

For some of you it’s easy to stick to your plan for spending and saving (your budget.) You’ve taken care to control your spending! You have a clear picture of the money required to meet your current obligations as well as your needs. You’ve created a plan to meet your financial goals (your “wish” list). Best of all, you’ve put that plan into motion. GREAT!

For others, it hasn’t been simple. A couple of weeks go by and, while spending money, you’re not asking yourself “is this a want or a need?” Maybe you’ve even compromised your budget a couple of times to go to the movies or hang out in the mall. Before you know it, the only question you’re asking yourself is “what budget?” These are the growing pains of budgeting. Don’t worry we’ve all gone through it.

Most of us require a trial run or two before we can make the practice of budgeting our own. Fear not, I have some tips that should help the process along.

  1. Keep Track of Your Spending! Let’s say you’ve budgeted $80 per month for entertainment. How do you know when you’ve reached your limit? We all know that if you put cash in your pocket, unless you’re careful, you will kiss it good-bye! So make sure that you keep track with a notebook, or just add up your receipts at the end of the day. You can’t change your habits if you‘re not aware of them. For instance, you may be wasting your “entertainment” money on noontime snacks.
  2. Pay Yourself First! When saving to reach your financial goals, take 10% of your income and put it away before you have a chance to miss it. It’s painless and the Credit Union can set it up for you. Are you working? Have your check deposited directly into your credit union account. We can divert a percentage, or a set dollar amount, into a sub-savings account. You’ll be able to see your balance growing, bringing you closer to your goal.
  3. Keep Your Goals in Front of You! Most of us keep our money in a wallet. Therefore, it makes sense to keep your financial dreams in you wallet too. Here’s an example:
Your mid-term goal is to go to New York in 6 months. You’ve determined that your trip will cost $1,000 and you need to save $166.67 per month in order to reach you goal.

Reaching this goal takes some self-control on your part. Make it easier on yourself by making a reminder. Put a picture of the Statue of Liberty in your wallet so that each time you open it to spend, you’re reminded of why you’re “going without.”

Remember, if you’ve planned a budget that you can’t live with … you won’t. You need to leave some room for fun or your chances of success will dwindle as fast as your savings account!

Don’t give up! I believe in you.