Now that you’ve built your budget, looked at some budgeting money tips to help it balance, and started thinking about ways to maximize your income, you are ready for the most important thing you can do to start overcoming your debt trap. It’s time to learn how to stick to a budget.
FOLLOW YOUR PLAN
All of the greatest military units in the world know that to successfully win in battle there are 2 things you need to do:
- You need to HAVE a plan
- You need to FOLLOW the plan.
You can have the greatest budget in the world, with a nice surplus to knock that debt out in “x” amount of months, but if you don’t follow through it will never happen.
My wife and I had a budget for years, but we never executed. It all looked great on paper but we never followed it. So we remained trapped for years.
Nothing will ever change until you finally make the decision that you are sick and tired of suffocating financially and are going to make yourself stick to the plan. So here are a few tips to help you make it happen.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EASY ACCESS TO YOUR BUDGET
Where is your budget? When is the last time you seen it? Is it buried under that mountain of papers on your desk? You may be trying to answer those very questions right now. If you do not know where your plan is how will you ever follow through with it and stick to it?
Make sure you know where it is. Keep it in a place where you can see it daily. If you do your budget on a spreadsheet or app keep a shortcut icon right on your desktop or smartphone home page. When you sit down to do your bills make sure you have it pulled up. Make edits and updates along the way.
Did you get some overtime on your first paycheck? Make adjustments. Did you have to take a sick or personal day and lose a day’s pay on your second paycheck? Make adjustments. Did your teenager go 2 gigs over on the data plan? You need to make adjustments…and have a conversation as well.
The point is, there are usually small changes that need to happen on the fly in any given month, so it’s crucial to always have easy access.
Plus, it’s important to “know the state of your flocks”. I’ve been budgeting for many years. So, for the most part, I have my entire budget memorized. Regardless, I still pull it up every Friday when I go over the week’s bills and expenses.
Develop some good habits now. Then, when you are free from the debt trap, you will continue with and even build on those habits.
That’s when the dreams start happening! But, even dreams need a budget!
TALK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS OFTEN
If you are married or have a live-in partner this is a great way for you to come together and work towards the same goals.
Write the ideas down. Have fun with it. Don’t walk away from this conversation depressed. If you do, you’ve done something wrong! So, regroup and do it again. This is your dream session. Stop thinking and saying things like “it would be nice if we had the money to…”. Instead, start thinking and creatively coming up with ways to make it happen.
Start asking questions like, “How can we make this our reality?”
If you are single and living on your own it’s important that you find someone that you trust to be in your corner. Doing this all by yourself is very difficult, if not, impossible.
Having someone to push you, ask you the hard questions and even give you wisdom and advice will push you to new levels of achievement:
- Did you stick to your budget this month?
- Did you pay off that credit card you said you were going to?
Try to find a trusted friend or family member that is successful with their own finances and they can show you little tips and tweaks that will help you thrive. Tell them your hopes and dreams and create some 2-year, 5-year, and 10-year plans together. Meet with them every few months and talk about your progress. If there are hang-ups, talk about them as well and find some ways to make some adjustments.
Knowing what you are aiming for will help create the driving force of your success. Write down your dreams and goals and keep them WITH your budget. Have regular conversations about your dreams and keep them at the forefront of your thoughts.
If all you are ever focused on is your debt, it can get really depressing and almost debilitating in a hurry. Then you will start buying into the lie, “I will always be in debt.”
It’s not true and you are already taking the right steps toward victory! So, what does YOUR victory look like?
MAKE IT FUN, CELEBRATE THE VICTORIES, GET EXCITED
Over the course of your journey, you are going to have many victories along the way. Every debt that is paid off, every extra dollar that is earned, and every step closer to your dreams, these are going to be really exciting moments for you. Enjoy them! Even the smallest victories are moving you forward in the right direction. Build on that momentum.
Find ways to celebrate your victories. Just remember to budget for it! Go out for a nice dinner after getting that credit card paid off. Have a bonfire and burn those final statements when the last payment is made. Once again, get creative! It’s okay to have some fun with this!
Invite other people to come along! If they think you are weird, that’s fine. Let them think whatever they want. They are probably still wallowing around in their own financial mess, and probably need you to have a conversation with them. But you, my friend, are on a path to victory.
HAVE CONTESTS, STAY MOTIVATED
If this is a team effort, have contests. See who can bring in the most extra income this month. Maybe the winner gets a special prize? The possibilities are endless.
One of the keys to success in any area of your life is to stay motivated and build momentum. If you make this as dry and boring as possible it will be really easy to lose focus and 5 years from now you will still be in the same shackles that you are in right now. Trust me, I know from personal experience. But, if you follow my advice, you will get there!
What about you? What are some tips you have found to help you stick to your budget? Share them in the comments below!