8 Secrets to Building a Budget That Works

Taking charge of your finances can be tough. Use these tactics to get maximum gain with no pain.

6. Monitor your goals regularly

Compare your budget with your actual day-to-day spending. Sometimes a wild card like car repairs or medical co-pays sends you way over budget. But if you find yourself in the red more than once in a while, it is time to look for ways to stay motivated.

Maybe a “just this once” coffee, lunch out, toy for your kid or pizza for the family has burgeoned into an inability to say no. Here’s a phrase that can help: “That’s not in the budget right now.”

7. Be flexible

Suppose gasoline prices unexpectedly spike, or you need $20 for your middle-schooler’s chess club fee. The money has to come from somewhere, so you need to be able to shift dollars from category to category.

Note: This does not mean a license to overspend. Quite the opposite. It means you need to get creative about meeting your needs.

If you want your kid in chess club, it might mean sacrificing a couple of once-a-week lunches out.

Does that seem like more deprivation? Look at it as enrichment for your child. Keeping things in perspective is a major component of that thing called adulthood.

8. Celebrate your progress

In the past 90 days, you pared that consumer debt by $330 — way to go! Your emergency fund is up to $800 — woot! You started that Roth IRA and automated a small monthly contribution — yay, you!

Compare the way you’re living now — taking charge of debt, making plans for the future — to the way you used to live. Remember the feeling of hopelessness, the fear that you would never get ahead? Now you are doing something about it.

Do you have tips on how to stick to a budget? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman @DLFreedman
A former newspaper journalist, Donna Freedman has been a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly, and freelanced for a wide variety of online and print publications. She got a ... More


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