Don't Stop Now: Keep Your Budget Resolution on Track, or Get There Fast
Don't let a bad week or two stop you from meeting your New Year savings goals.
Budgeting your finances is a popular New Year resolution. You start off the year well, but you start to lose steam within a couple of weeks. The problem is you're back to where you started last year and could find yourself worse off. Don't break your resolution. Get back on track with these very simple tricks and tips.
Put a Freeze on Your Spending Right Now
There's no time like the present to get your finances focused. The best way to do it is to stop spending! Put a complete freeze on your spending, so only the necessary outgoings (like bills, mortgage/rent and groceries) leave your account. Try to do this for the whole month and find others who want to do this to keep each other accountable.
This can seem daunting at first, but you will soon find ways of getting around spending money. For example, that birthday cake you need to buy can be made at home.
Evaluate the Damage Done
Get your budgeting up to date by adding in all the expenses. You may not remember the details of everything you spent money on, so overestimate in places to avoid accidentally overspending later. Now you can sit down to look over the details and really evaluate the damage you've done. Be honest with yourself. It's the only way to move on and get back on track.
Look at each of your accounts in turn. This helps to keep them separate and see where you can make things up.
The best way to get back on track is to evaluate the damage and reassess your budget.
Start Again or Update
Should you start your budget from scratch or is it time to update your current one? This will depend on the amount of damage that you have already done. If you are completely off track, it is often best to start from the beginning again and put the damage behind you. For those who aren't that far off or know that it can easily be salvaged, you can look at updating your current allowances to factor in the damage.
If you choose to start over again, put a note in your diary and keep the old information. You'll need to remember this for next year.
Set Boundaries You Can Stick To
Be realistic with your spending boundaries. If you set them too tight, you're going to rebel and spend more than you can afford. When they're too lax, you end up spending too much and find yourself in debt. Set boundaries that you know are reasonable to stick to, within the disposable income, and don't affect your savings too much. Talk to your whole family about these boundaries and make it clear that "no" really means no!
The sooner you get back on track, the better. Don't think "I'll start next week," because you'll just keep pushing it off and your budget will get worse. Stop spending, focus on your accounts, and assess the damage that you've done. From there, you can reassess your needs and create or update your budget to suit your family.
Alexandria Ingham is a freelance writer with experience in technology, business and personal finance.