Sticking with a budget is one of the best ways to save money. Funny how it’s also one of the hardest things to do.
A little splurge here. A vacation there. Then you hit a rough patch that throws your budget into disarray, and now you’re convinced there’s no point to following one at all.
The truth is, a budget can help you afford these splurges and handle unexpected expenses with greater confidence if you keep at it. Here are some simple tips that make it easier to follow your budget.
1. Be Realistic
It’s hard to stick with a budget if you aren’t working with realistic numbers. Don’t underreport essential spending, and always work with your take-home pay.
Right off the bat, these two tricks will give an accurate accounting of your money. But realism goes deeper. When you start cutting non-essential spending, be honest about how likely you’ll be able to avoid expenses.
Eventually, you’ll have to buy new clothes, get a haircut, or buy someone a gift. Pretending these expenses don’t happen will only cause a headache when they crop up, so account for these infrequent expenses.
2. Always Save for the Unexpected
Life has a way of getting in the way of your plans. Your tire springs a leak, your cat swallows a ribbon, or your neighbor’s child throws a baseball through your window.
While there may be no way to predict when these disasters will hit your budget, you can prepare for them by squirreling away some money into an emergency fund each month.
Until you build these savings, a line of credit can help you cover unexpected car repairs or vet bills. If you don’t already have one, check out Fora to learn about what you need to qualify. As a lender of online line of credit loans, Fora is a good starting point for information.
The great thing about a line of credit is that it’s revolving, so you can withdraw against your limit, repay it, and draw again in the next emergency.
3. Budget for Fun
Some people hear the word “budget” and picture a life devoid of any fun. But a budget that doesn’t plan for any joy is one that’s quickly abandoned.
It’s almost impossible to live life spending money exclusively on the essentials. Besides, most people don’t need to follow such an austere plan if they balance their spending properly.
4. Give Every Dollar a Job
If you’re having a hard time drawing the line on fun spending, try the zero-based budget. This budget assigns a job to every dollar in your budget. That way, none of your cash is sitting around, begging to be spent.
To follow the zero-based budget, figure out how much money you have left over after paying bills and saving money. Some of this excess will go towards fun, but not all of it. Funnel some of it into other goals, like saving for a vacation or paying off your line of credit.
5. Automate as Much as You Can
Paying bills on time and saving money is easier when you automate your finances. Go into your online banking account to set up transfers between your checking account and your bills or savings account. This way, you don’t have to think too hard about moving around money.
While each of these tips may seem small on its own, together they can make it easier to stick with your budget.