How to Keep Track of Your Budget



Recently we’ve been talking about how to create a budget and why a budget is so important. If you missed those posts, please go here and here before you go any further!

As a short review, budgets are about 10% math, 80% discipline, and 10% repetition. I apologize in advance, but this post has a little more about discipline than anything else. Here are some practical tips on keeping track of your budget.

  1. Look at your account daily. When you were creating your budget, you may have forgotten about that $10/month subscription that automatically comes out each month. You’ll need to adjust accordingly for that. Looking at your account daily will also help you stay current with everything. For those who live in the United States, we have opportunities CONSTANTLY to spend money. Even if you have the money budgeted, you should still know what’s coming out and when. If you’re looking at your account daily, it will help you see how quickly it all disappears and will help you keep your eye on the prize: saving money!
  2. Look at your budget daily. If you added savings to your budget as a line item – as you should have – it does so much good to remind yourself of that regularly. Seeing that $300 line item that is coming right to you at the end of the month can be such an encouragement to stick to it. (And looking at your budget may help you remember that you and your friend shouldn’t go out to lunch tomorrow but should instead eat at your place or meet for a $1 coffee.)
  3. Set a time weekly to go over your budget and account (if applicable, with your spouse). This helps ensure that both parties are on board, keeps you striving for the same goals, and aware of your finances. A unified team has so much underestimated power. If everyone on your “team” is aligned with your mission for budgeting, saving, etc., you can all arrive to your goal happier, healthier, closer, and faster.

If you create a habit of doing these simple tasks every day, it will soon become as normal and habitual as brushing your teeth every day. And your finances will show you the reward of your discipline. Happy budgeting!

Why Have a Budget

Yep, I just said the B-word. And maybe you should, too. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, nearly 67% of Americans do not have a detailed budget.

So I’m not surprised Forbes reported last June that 63% of Americans do not have enough cash on-hand to pay for a $500 emergency. $500 is a considerable chunk of cash, but a $500 emergency can easily pop up. Did you blow a tire? Well, of course, you should always replace them in pairs. Poof. You are in debt (or getting in great shape as you ride your bike all over town), and your $500 credit card swipe becomes $600 or more after interest. These statistics say that “normal” means being broke.

Have you ever looked at your bank account and thought, What happened to all of my money? Do you know what it feels like to have the cashier inform you that your debit or credit card was declined? Maybe you’re tired of juggling bills, trying to keep the lights from being turned off. I’m here to tell you that there is a better way, and you can live it! All it takes is a little planning and learning how to control yourself.

Someone smart once said, “Money flows from the careless to the conscientious.”

I’m not here to convince you to sell your furniture, ditch the car, or eat Ramen noodles for the next fifteen years. Gross. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to live that way any more.

How would you like to:

  • Tell your money exactly where to go instead of wondering where it went?
  • Stop going further into debt, and not have to worry about who is calling?
  • Get the best deal possible on pretty much every major purchase you ever make?
  • Never have to wonder if you can pay your bills?
  • Decide for yourself how much you want to have available to cover an emergency?
  • Ditch the debt hole you’ve been digging and start to build real savings?

Okay, so a budget is not magical. It won’t do any of those things for you. But unless you have an uncle on this list (and if you do, call me: we should be friends), it is highly unlikely that you will experience any of these things without a budget. We’ll get to specifics in my post next week, but for now, just answer this question:

Who makes the decisions in your home: you or your bank account?

PS – If I still haven’t convinced you to come back next week for how to create a budget, take a look at this. Or this. Or this.

 

Photo credit: Pictures of Money