Out of those hundreds of tasks we keep adding to our to-do lists, sticking to a set budget is perhaps the toughest. However, if adhered to, it can actually turn out to be the most rewarding. Following a budget lets you be in control over your income in a way that keeps creating wealth to secure your financial future. Budgeting doesn’t only mean saving your income or using it only for necessary expenses, it is also about using your income in a way that doesn’t deprive you of your recreational needs for your mental well-being. Effective budgeting requires sincerity and certain tweaks in your lifestyle. So, if you are still struggling to develop a skill for budgeting, here are a few tips that may help you sail through.
Don’t Make Budgeting Too Tough For You, Be Realistic
One of the key reasons why people don’t stick to a budget is because they do not draw a realistic plan. Your budget should be based on your income. While drawing a roadmap for budgeting, do not cut back on necessary items like grocery or things crucial for your mental well-being, like a vacation for example. You can do this by listing out the things you need in a month and then prioritising them.
Identify Your Trouble Spots
You can easily stick to a budget if you identify your trouble spots and avoid them. For instance, eating out is fun, but you should restrict this to certain special occasions and not follow it as a regular habit. Do remember even a Rs. 150 pizza may look cheap, but having it every day is not good both for your financial and physical health. Likewise, do not succumb to the plethora of lucrative online shopping offers around you, and shop only when you need to.
Keep A Tab On your Spending
Your hard-earned money or income should be spent judiciously. You should keep a tab on what you are earning and how much you are spending. Ensure you do not stretch your expenses beyond your earnings in a month and avoid any short-term debt situation. It would be wise to maintain an excel sheet or take help of a budgeting app to list out your expenditures. This will also help you maintain a record of your expenditures for future references. If possible, give yourself a no spending day when you do not step out to buy even a small grocery item.
Automate Your Important Debits
This is a fool-proof formula that will help you stick to your budget. You can set up a date for your auto-debits for investments and credit card bills as per your salary credit date. This would also ensure that your money is spent for a purpose rather than for unnecessary items. Last but not the least, this ensures timely payments in case you forgot the dates or were travelling.
Have A Budget Buddy
You can also seek help from your partner, friend or an immediate family member to help you stick to the budget. You can share your budgeting plan with them and ask them to keep you motivated or focussed when you digress. While looking for a buddy for budgeting, ensure you both share the same views on financial matters and are aware of basic facts of your financial life such as the need to set financial goals, what you earn from investments, the rate of inflation, how your income is taxed and so on.
It makes complete sense to do a review of your budgeting plan regularly to see how you are faring. If it isn’t working, you can redraw it or make a few changes until it works for you. It is also important to make your budget plan after factoring in all your income and expense assumptions.
The writer is CEO, BankBazaar.com, India’s leading online marketplace for loans and credit cards.