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Your Budget Shouldn't Feel Like a Punishment [Budget Tips and Tricks from an Insider]

Mar 22, 2018 - Posted by: Kelly Fleiner

We all have trouble sticking to a budget, right? Well I know I do, but this doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I also believe budgeting can be fun when approached right. For those of us who struggle with the “B” word, I am going to go through some ways you can make your budget habits less painful and even fun from time to time.

1. What is Your Budget Motivation?

If you don’t know why you want to budget, it can seem like an impossible task. The first step to making budgeting fun is to determine the “why” behind what you are doing. Try visualizing the reason you want to budget and think about how happy you will be when you finally accomplish the goal.

2. Find a Budget Buddy.

For me, my husband is NOT this person. We both have similar spending habits and struggle to keep each other accountable. I like to work with my friend and colleague, Kelsey Fandry, on my budget tools. In fact, Kelsey currently has both of my credit cards locked away somewhere I do not know about to keep me from using them. I know, some people may not find talking about their spending habits with others as easy as I do, but I think it is nice to share financial struggles with another human. Chances are they know what you are going through or they may have some advice for you. In my case, Kelsey has been accommodating and kept me accountable with my budget.

3. Use a Budget App!

Why make your life more complicated by trying to use an Excel spreadsheet or worse, pen and paper? My favorite app for budgeting at the moment is Mint https://www.mint.com/. The app allows you to pull in all your accounts, I mean ALL of them and then tracks your spending. You can set up a budget or allow Mint to set one up for you. The app also sends alerts on irregular and spending trends. Overall, Mint makes my life easier and helps hold me accountable for my spending.

4. Sleep on It.

Are you ready to click “buy it” in your Amazon cart? Humans enjoy the anticipation of buying things so why not hold on to that emotion a little longer. Even waiting an hour to decide to purchase something could stop you. Shop away, you get the same feeling, but don’t buy anything. Yes, this can be very tempting, but a little self-control goes a long way. I have more abandoned shopping carts in my online shopping world than anything else and my wallet thanks me.

5. Visualize Your Budget Reward!

Another fun way to budget is to envision what you are budgeting. Are you saving for a big vacation? Make a vision board with pictures and place it somewhere you will see regularly. Write down your goal; it makes you more likely to achieve it. I have pictures of New England all over my refrigerator at home in anticipation of a big trip we are taking this fall. These photos help remind me on a regular basis what I am budgeting for and give me a little inspiration at the same time.

6. Get Your Family Involved. 

Yes, looping your family in on your budget is a good idea because you are setting the expectation. While my husband is not my accountability partner, we have a clear outline of our household budget, and this makes communication at home much more fun. Why be a statistic? The leading cause of divorce in America is finance related so take it out of the equation. Be open and honest about your spending habits and set a budget together. This way your family life can be so much more fun.

7. Hide Your Money

Have you thought about “hiding” money from yourself? No, I don’t mean literally. Open another savings account, one you won’t see regularly and set-up an auto transfer to this account with every paycheck. Even $20 every two weeks adds up quickly, and you probably won’t even notice after the first couple of transfers. It is kind of the same thing as your 401k, it comes directly out of your paycheck so how can you miss those dollars if you never had them?

8. Do Deny Yourself.

My favorite way to make budgeting a bit more fun comes from The Penny Hoarder. https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/4-crazy-ways-to-fix-your-budget/ Stop being frugal. If you constantly deny yourself, you will ultimately crack and make a dumb purchase. TPH tells us to spend 50% of our budgeting time thinking of ways to save money and the other 50% of the time on ways we can earn money. Seems easy enough, right? Increase the income, and we must worry about budgeting a little bit less.

9. Create a Game Out of Your Budget.

Are you a competitive person like me? Well good, this will be fun for you. Pick some of the items out of your budget that you spend monthly. Look at what your expenses last month and try to cut the amount back by $50 or $100. By creating a competition, you are creating motivation for your budget. Things like groceries work well for this game. Enjoy!

10. Budget in the Fun Stuff too.

If you only budget for the bad times, budgeting can be a huge drag. Give yourself a monthly budget for the fun things you like to do. Having wiggle room for fun activities will help you stay on track with your budget and make budgeting, not such a gloomy activity. Budget for the movies, for concerts, and for vacations. They give you something to look forward to and help you visualize the end goal of a budget item.

There you go, some not so awful ways to manage your budget. I encourage you to find the ways that work best for you. Every situation is different, and every budget is different. If you have some awesome advice on making budgeting fun, please share with us.

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