Sticking to a budget is not always easy. We know, so we’ve detailed three tips to stay on track for the fall and through the upcoming holiday season.
Tip #1: Slow down spending or freeze spending
Part of the reason we go off budget is because it is so easy to say yes to overspending and over splurging. Once you get into this habit it can be hard to get out. While this may be a challenge for some, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It also doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to spend money ever again. We need to find that happy compromise.
If you and your family eat out a lot, try challenging yourselves to only eating out once a week or not at all! Those dinner checks can add up, and cutting back can make a huge difference with how much money you can save. Try looking back at how much you spent eating out over the past few months, and then take that amount and start putting it into a savings account instead. You’ll be saving money and will have a good amount built up by the end of the year.
Or maybe your area of overspending is on doing things. Curb your spending here by finding free and fun ways to have fun as a family at home. Game nights, playing games outside, or whatever you and the family like to do! You’ll cut back spending with these free entertainment options while still creating memories and bonding.
The point here is, find your problem area(s) and work to reduce spending there. It doesn’t have to be drastic, but set a realistic spending amount for that, and actually stick to it.
Tip #2: Damage Control
If you do the constant swipe and forget with your credit card, it’s time to sit down and do the painful task of adding up your payments and any debt you may have. It won’t be the most fun of tasks, but getting this out of the way now will make for easy sailing in the future in terms of your money and budget.
But what if the debt is much larger than you originally thought and now you feel stuck and maybe a little helpless? Try the snowball method from Dave Ramsey. If you have multiple credit cards to pay off, the snowball method will effectively help you get back on track. Pick one card to start putting a little extra toward when paying it off and continue paying the minimum balance on the other cards. Once that card is paid off, take that amount and add it to the next card until it is paid off. Keep snowballing these payments until all your debt is cleared away.
This method will not only help clear away debt, but give you confidence in yourself and a sense of accomplishment too. This can carry over into your new budget and spending habits to make you a money management machine.
Another option is to consolidate existing credit card debit into a single card, or a personal loan. That way, you only have one payment each month. This method requires discipline to make sure you don’t run charges back up on all the other credit cards.
Tip #3: Easy Money
Earn some money by selling some things you don’t need anymore. Some convenient places to sell things online include Facebook, craigslist, eBay, or Poshmark. Another option is to donate the items to second hand stores and get a receipt that you can write off on your taxes. It’s a win-win, you are doing something that is going to help someone and you can get some extra money as well.
Maybe you have a skill that doesn’t interfere with your regular job. Consider doing some jobs to help bring in extra cash.
Or maybe it’s as simple as evaluating all of your recurring auto-payments. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use, and put the savings toward paying down debt or into a savings account.
The key to easy money is being creative. Taking what you already have, and using it to benefit financially.
The most important tip is to not beat yourself up.
Taking the time and the right steps will get you back on track and on budget. If anything, turn any negative emotions into the drive and motivation to get back on your budget. Once everything is back in order, you’ll feel amazing because you worry less about money, and you will be more inclined to stay in a smart money habit state of mind.