Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sticking to Your Budget

You’ve tried setting a budget and sticking to it.
You can’t, so you blow more money than you would have had you not set the budget in the first place.
Why is it so hard? And what should you do about it?
Budgets are hard because they’re so restrictive — almost suffocating.
When your friends invite you out to TGIFriday’s, you can’t say no. It’s degrading. It’s demeaning. It’s just plain sad. You can’t bring yourself to do it. Out you go, deeper in debt thanks to your lack of will power.
The psychology behind budgets encourages failure. It’s tantamount to being told “no,” and who wants to be told “no” to everything they want? It’s almost like budgets are daring us to spend.
Here are some ways to get around this mentality — and finally get frugal.

7 Tips for Budgeting Without Suffocating

1. Change your attitude
If you look at your budget as a tool, a measurement of your success, you’ll be less likely to resent it. It’ll be part of your team, not your opponent. You should also view it as a choice. You’re the only one that can put you on a budget, and you’re the only one that can opt not to. It’s entirely up to you.
2. Frame your reasoning
Why are you being frugal in the first place? Do you have a goal you want to reach? Are you trying to teach your kids how to budget? Do you want to pay off your debt? When you define your reason, write it down. Repeat it to yourself each morning.
3. Set a time frame for your goals
It doesn’t mean you stop living frugally after reaching your goal; you’ll simply set a new one. By giving yourself a time frame, you can at least see a stopping point in the future.Frugal living will become second nature as you continue to set and meet small goals.
4. Establish your new habit one step at a time
If you’re faced with moving a mountain, you’ll likely shut down at the thought and won’t complete the task. It’s simply too great. Who wants to try something they know they can’t do? But, if you’ve been told to move a single rock from that mountain, you’ll probably start laying out your plan and get it done. Because it’s just a rock.
Establish frugality in stages. What are some of the easy steps you can take to change your habits? Maybe set a rule for not eating out. And until that’s engrained, don’t try to add a new habit. Take it one step at a time.
5. Measure your successes
If you must live frugally, then you don’t feel like you can do whatever you want. For many of us, that’s a downer. Celebrate your successes — no matter how small — and do so often. Did you have coffee from home today instead of from the coffee shop? Celebrate. Not by spending money, but by giving yourself a pat on the back and cheering yourself on. (Out loud!)
6. Identify your weaknesses
What are your triggers for spending? Why? How can you avoid them? Or, what alternative behaviors will help you deal with them? Most of us can control ourselves and our spending — until we hit a trigger. It could be a bad day at the office, a break up, or even an invite to hang out with friends. Make a list of your triggers, then write down alternative behaviors that will bring you the same feeling (without the cost).
7. Find more pleasure in your life
It’s hard to wallow in the yuck of being told no. So, seek pleasure. In everything. Yes, this is a frugal lunch of peanut butter and jelly, but it’s an amazingly creamy peanut butter — and with this glass of milk, it feels like elementary school when your mom lovingly packed your lunchbox each morning. You’re no longer eating a cheap PB&J; instead, you’re consuming a wonderful memory.
Thriving in frugality is a mental game. Luckily, it’s one you can win.

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