So, you use your budget, yet somehow at the end of the month you discover you overspent. We have all been there; it can be hard to remember your budget while shopping. A budget is not a static document that you write and leave alone, but a working and responsive tool for money management. Try these healthy habits and easy to use tools to stay in tune with your budget throughout the month.
1. Regular Check-Ins
This is one of the best methods to help you stay on track with your working budget and is most effective when paired with a spending tracker. Checking in with your spending and your budget on a regular basis keeps you in-tune with your goals.
How often you check in is a preference, but either every week or every two weeks is recommended. Choose a day and time of the week to check in with your budget. Many people like to do this on Fridays, but I personally check in every other Sunday.
On your chosen day, grab your spending tracker and your budget. Calculate how much you’ve spent in each category so far, and subtract that from your budget. This will tell you how much you have left to spend and how well you’ve done at sticking to your spending plan.
Checking in regularly helps keep you aware of how you’re spending your money and develops good spending habits over time. This is a valuable practice whether you’re a budget veteran or newbie, and it limits accidental overspending (and the resulting discouragement) during the month.
2. Zero Spend Days
This is a practice I’ve recently added to my budgeting style. It’s a very simple principle, I just pick certain days during the week to not spend any money. To achieve this goal, I plan my meals and any drinks I might want to have on those days so I will not be tempted to spend money. I monitor my fuel needs as well and always try to gas up before my zero spend day. Occasionally I have miscalculated and needed to buy gas, so I made the next day my zero spend day to meet my weekly goal.
When I began this practice, my goal was one zero spend day a week. It’s easier to build a habit if you begin with reasonable expectations for yourself. After a few weeks of successful zero-spend days, I increased my goal to two per week.
By limiting days that I spend money, I’m more aware of the amount I spend and plan shopping trips more effectively to meet my goal. It also reduces my urge to spend money on little things throughout the week.
3. App Usage
A few months ago, I wrote an article reviewing different budgeting apps, and I’d like to take a moment to talk about my favorite, the Daily Budget. This app is free and easy to use. It functions much like a paper budget by asking you to put in your income, your bills, and budget spending for categories like groceries, gas, and savings. After it subtracts your budgeted spending from your income, it calculates how much leftover money you have to spend every day. Although it won’t keep you in perfect contact with your spending in budgeted categories, it is a convenient way to monitor your general spending and make sure you don’t overspend on a frivolous item.
Written by Mckenzie Candalot, Staff Writer – Mckenzie Candalot graduated from the College of Idaho with a B.A. in English Literature. She has a passion for written language and helping other women take control of their finances. When not blogging or reading, she enjoys cooking and spending time with loved ones.