by Jonathan Olsen

5 Tips to Nail Your Yearly Budget

When it comes to budgeting, planning ahead is the best way to guarantee success. If you have struggled with sticking to a budget in the past, these 5 tips may help you stay on top of it this year.

Write down every bill and expense

The easiest way to fail at budgeting is to forget an expense. When you forget to account for a bill and then try to make up for it by moving around other payments, you may end up far off your budget. Write everything down with the due dates before creating your budget.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Car Payment
  • Insurance
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Toll or parking charges
  • Pet expenses
  • Gym memberships

Prepare in advance

Have you noticed that you are less likely to spend a lot of money on food if you prepare your lunch in advance? Meal prepping can save a lot of money over a year and minimizing eating out for dinner can also help save over the year. Think about better ways to use that money and plan your meals out for the week.

Also, set aside money for entertainment. If you know you will want to attend a party, concert, or movie, just plan the amount of money you will need and allocate your money towards that event. Denying yourself can lead to splurging later, and splurging leads to a failed budget.

Give yourself an allowance

Don’t deprive yourself. You are less likely to stick to your budget if you feel like you aren’t able to do anything you enjoy because of your budget. Therefore, you should give yourself an allowance every week to spend towards things you may want or need. How much should you give yourself? That depends on how much money you have left after all of your bills are paid, groceries are purchased, and your gas tank is full. For some people, $15-25/wk is sufficient, while others can afford to spend a little more.

Treat yourself for a job well done

After a few months of staying on track with your budget, allow yourself to purchase something nice. You can do this by saving your allowance over time, or gifting yourself with something after a bonus or successful month. It’s important to remember that you only have one life, and you should be enjoying it without constantly crunching numbers.

Set reasonable goals

There’s nothing wrong with trying to push yourself to save or payoff a debt as quickly as possible. However, there is something wrong when not meeting that goal causes you to lose hope and fall off the wagon. If you make a mistake and miss something on your budget, fix what you can and keep going. One missed payment should not mean that you stop trying. If you are not acclimated to budgeting, there may be a time or two where you miss something, prepare as much as you can, be also cut yourself a little slack. You are on the right track and that is all that matters.

What are your financial goals for this year? Share them with us!

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