We all try to be super precise when noting down our spending and a lot of the time we end up underestimating the amounts. Unless you have the time to go through every single receipt, it’s worth adding a bit extra to what you spend when you draw up your budget.
Think about your morning coffee that costs £1.89 – perhaps round it up to £2 and you can save the extra. Or if you know you usually spend around £60 on petrol every month, perhaps leave enough room for £70, in case you need it.
A realistic budget has room for the unexpected and fun – lunch with someone you haven’t seen for ages, your favourite band getting back together for a gig, wedding invitations. You may have a section of your budget called ‘bills’, ‘car expenses’ or ‘household items’. Add one called fun. I have said in the past that is it important to budget for fun. We can’t be serious all the time, that would be exhausting. And if nothing fun pops up for a few weeks – put that money into savings, or call your mate who you haven’t seen for a while.
Unfortunately, rather ‘un-fun’ things come out of the blue too – dental work,your cat gets sick, your hairdryer finally exploding so you have to go to work with crazy hair…every budget needs a contingency plan for the bad things that can happen in life too.
You could take some of the stress out budgeting each day by using a budgeting bank account. It accounts for all your bills and monthly essential costs. It’s still important to keep on top of your daily spending too, but if you think a budgeting bank account could help, you can have a look here for more information and to see an alternative type of budgeting service.
How to stick to your budget
Set goals. Having the vague idea that you want to ‘save money’ is a bit wishy-washy. Set a clear goal with a reward in mind to keep you motivated: “I can save / repay XX amount by XX date which means I can do XX.” Use your budget to help you work this out.
As long as your budget is realistic, there’s no reason why you can’t stick to it, although you’ll need a bit of willpower. Be prepared for other people to tempt you to spend too!
Real friends won’t expect you to get into debt or spend what you can’t afford on a social life, but if you make no effort to see them, they will think you are a bore. It is worth telling close friends why budgeting is important to you and suggest cheaper activities. You don’t have to tell them if you’re in debt – just say you’re saving up for something amazing!
Start a savings account. Often when people give up smoking, they put the money they would have spent on smoking into savings. Watching their money grow can help ex-smokers stay motivated. Start to put the money you save into a bank account. If you’re repaying debt, keep a record of how much you have repaid. Every few weeks or months, add up the total you’ve repaid and be proud of how hard you’ve worked.
So draw up a budget, set yourself some spending goals and ask friends to keep you motivated, put the money you save into a savings account and watch it grow! As soon as you start seeing some results for your hard work, your motivation will double. It’s not easy sticking to a budget – but who said anything worthwhile was easy?