How to stick to budget – 15 Simple ways. In today’s blog post I share ideas that you can apply to your finances to help you stick to a budget. Apply just a few of these tips and you’ll be surprised by how much money you are able to save.
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How To Stick To Budget
As a financial coach, I often speak to people who want to transform their financial situations, and a reoccurring theme is how difficult they find it to stick to their budget. This topic inspired me to write this blog post sharing 15 things you can do to help you stick to a budget. Applying just a few recommendations will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds every year.
1. Apply The 72-Hour Rule
What is the 72-hour rule I hear you ask? The 72-hour rule is where you don’t buy anything (except for essentials) for 72 hours after you initially considered making the purchase. Try this for a week and note every amount you would have spent. The total will shock you. I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and I’ve saved hundreds, if not thousands of pounds by doing this. The 72-hour rule will really help you if you’re an impulse shopper.
2. Budget To Zero
I talk about budgeting a lot on my blog, and that’s because I can attest to the freedom that I’ve experienced from having a budget. I was able to pay off over £36,000 debt thanks to my budget. But not just any budget – the zero-based budget. The zero-based budget is powerful because you’re putting every penny and pound to work. Without making a plan for your money, the money you’ve unaccounted for will go missing. Give every penny and pound a job to do at the start of the month, so that you’re not left at the end of the month wondering where all the money has gone. If you don’t have a budget, try my zero-based budget template.
3. Learn To Say ‘No, It’s Not In My Budget’
This one was very hard for me at the beginning of our debt-free journey as I didn’t want to let people down. Every birthday dinner, I honoured the invite – even when I couldn’t afford it. I would say yes to the invitation and then worry about how I was going to pay for it later. Since then I’ve grown, now I simply say “no, sorry it’s not in my budget”. I think being a money blogger and sharing my financial journey online makes it somewhat easier. Friends and family just know not to invite me to certain places, and if they really want me there, they give me adequate notice so that I can factor it into the budget.
I think boundaries are healthy and you should create strong ones when it comes to your personal finances. Learn to say no if saying yes is beyond your financial means. Your family and friends should respect your decision. Don’t let the fear of missing out drive you into debt, or if you’re already in debt don’t dig a deeper hole.
4. Set Clear Short, Medium And Long Term Financial Goals
When money hasn’t been given a job to do, and there isn’t a clear plan or direction for where you’re going with your finances, it’s easier to fall for the low hanging fruit. Where do you see yourself financially one year from today, 5 years from today or 10 years from today? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it may well be the reason why you find it difficult to stick to a budget.
When your goal, purpose and why are so strong and clear, you have tunnel vision and are focussed on achieving that desired goal. Spending £50 on a pair of shoes becomes less tempting when you know that £50 is half the money you need to make your monthly £100 mortgage overpayment goal.
5. Shop With A List
When you go to the grocery store to buy food, one thing that will really help you stick to your grocery budget is to shop with a list. Don’t just go to the store with a mental list. The problem with a mental note is that the ink fades quickly. You go to the store intending to spend £50 on your weekly shop, and end up leaving the store £100 lighter. The stores know what they are doing and have so many marketing messages and special offers throughout the store tempting you to spend more than planned. Having this list will give you the power you need to resist the urge to add unnecessary impulse purchases to your basket.
6. Get An Accountability Partner
Setting goals and creating a plan for your money is only half the battle, the other half is following through on the plans in which you’ve set for yourself. This is where an accountability partner comes in. Share your financial goals and plans with someone that you can trust and ask to hold you accountable to the goal in which you set yourself. Have regular check-ins and give them the access to have real conversations about money with you and remind you of the financial goals in which you set yourself.
7. Try A No Spend Challenge
No spend challenges are great ways to help you stick to a budget. Set aside a few days every month where you make a commitment to yourself to make no unplanned purchases for a designated amount of days. I’m currently doing no spend January and I’ve been able to save over £150 by not spending money on any non-essentials for the month.
There are 12 different challenges as part of my 12 months money saving challenge. Give them a go and see how much money you are able to save in a year.
8. Give Yourself An Allowance
It’s important to set aside money every month for you to spend on whatever you chose. Set yourself a fun allowance and enjoy guilt-free spending. When you don’t budget for fun, you end up overspending in your other budget categories and finding ways to purchase the things that you really want to buy. Fun is essential to our mental well-being, but balance is key. Set a fun allowance that works for you and when it’s done, it’s done.
9. Automate Your Bills And Savings
Automation, automation, automation, automation is a fantastic secret to success when it comes to sticking to your budget. Create systems for your money so that you take control and power out of your own hands. Set up as many standing orders and direct debit payments that you can for your bills and savings, so that it will happen automatically with no input required from you. This means that on the days when you don’t feel like saving, forget to save or make other plans for your money, the choice is taken out of your hands and the payments are taken automatically.
10. Make Your Budget Realistic
Don’t set yourself up for failure. You’ve looked back over the last 3 months and can see on average you’ve spent £500 on food each month, therefore setting a food budget of £50 for the following month is not realistic. If you’re paying down debt or have an imminent saving goal that you’re trying to reach, then yes you do need to tighten your budget. But don’t tighten it to the point that you’ve set yourself up for failure even before the month has started. Be realistic with your budget and you stand more chance of sticking to it.
11. Be Consistent With Reviewing Budget
You created your budget on the 26th of December and haven’t revisited again until 26th January when its time to create the next months budget – herein lies your problem. A great way to stick to a budget is to check in with it regularly. It’s not enough to just create it, for it to work effectively it’s important to review it regularly to ensure you’re on track with the spending plan you’ve created.
12. Find A Frugal Way
I strongly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a frugal way. If there’s something you want to do, find that frugal way to do it. For example, a few years ago I wanted to buy some ratton furniture for my garden. The set I wanted to buy cost £1,000 and I knew I didn’t have the budget for it. Instead of spending money I didn’t have, I decided to find a frugal way to do it. With the help of my husband, we were able to create a beautiful garden sofa out of pallets for under £200. You can check it out below.
13. Utilise Cash Money Envelopes
One effective way to stick to your budget is by using cash/money envelopes. Allocate specific amounts of money for different spending categories, such as groceries, entertainment, and dining out. Put the designated cash in separate envelopes, and only use the money from each envelope for its intended purpose. This method helps you visualise your spending and prevents you from overspending in any particular category.
14. Embrace Meal Planning
Meal planning is a fantastic strategy to save money and stick to your budget, especially when it comes to groceries. Plan your meals for the week ahead, create a shopping list based on those meals, and stick to it when you go grocery shopping. This approach helps you avoid impulse purchases and reduces food waste since you’ll only buy what you need and use everything you’ve purchased.
15. Negotiate and Comparison Shop
Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or shop around for better deals. Whether you’re purchasing a big-ticket item or a service, such as insurance or internet plans, it’s worth exploring different options and bargaining for the best price. Take the time to research, compare prices, and ask for discounts or better offers. Being proactive in finding the best deals can significantly contribute to staying within your budget—websites like comparethemarket.com, gocompare.com and Which.co.uk are excellent resources this.
These are just 15 of the things you can try that will help you stick to a budget. Let me know if you’ve tried any of them and how they work for you. What other things do you do that help you stick to budget?
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