As we conclude the 8 week series on Budget & Accountability, I have boiled down what I’ve learned into 5 things. Hopefully you will be able to apply this for your home budget!
1. Set Short Term & Long Term Goals
I didn’t set specific goals at the start, other than save money. I also didn’t differentiate between short & long term goals. Why is this important? Because it’s good to have some small celebrations along the way. It helps to keep you motivated. Think of it as the cheering stands along miles 3, 10, 16 while you’re running a marathon. Not that I know how that feels.
2. Prioritize Your Goals
When you start out, you could find a lot of short term goals, with one main long term goal. Even though I didn’t write any down, our mini goal was to stop using our credit card and purchase with cash or our debit cards only. Other short term goals could be budget-related, or not. One not would be meal planning to save some money and discipline yourself to shop based on store sales, and stick to eating what you cook. This was an idea I had, but I just didn’t commit to it. Another budget-related goal could be to shop local at farmer’s markets to save some money but also to shop fresh for your family. 2 birds, 1 stone. When you have them written out (step 1) then you’ll be able to prioritize and put your focus in order of goals to cross them off.
3. Name Every Penny
With the weekly spreadsheets, there’s a spot to write out all the bills, when due. That’s something you can do at the start of each week. At the end of the week, you’re forced to see how you spent the rest of your money. Hitting up Starbucks a little too frequently? You’ll know. Shopping at Target for non-household items? Can’t hide from that. It will switch your mode of thinking and hopefully make you think twice before adding that pair of flip-flops into your cart.
4. Be Honest
I referenced this during the series about staying honest with your partner. And if you’re working your budget alone, being honest with yourself. What does this do? It prevents you from hiding purchases, trying to leave things out from your budget sheet, and then setting yourself up for disappointment at the end of the month when you’re over and can’t quite figure out why. It can hurt to be honest, as you fear judgement by yourself or significant other, but is an exercise that needs to be done if you want to change the way you live and the way you spend.
5. Don’t Sabotage Your Success
If you end up over on a week (or two), don’t beat yourself up. Don’t give in to the temptation to just throw this project to the wayside. Acknowledge your disappoint, figure out where it went wrong, and get back on track. The great thing about a weekly and monthly summary is that you have time to fix the month before it is written down. If you went over because you had unexpected expenses for your car, home, or anything else, try and figure out where you can save the rest of the month.
I’ll be checking in periodically but I do hope that you can continue on your journey to keep on budget and to stay accountable! If you ever want to share your story, tweet me! @Melissa_Dell.