How Do I Actually FOLLOW The Budget?

One of the most common questions we receive is:

“Joe, I know how to prepare a budget.   We just can’t find a way to stick to the budget.”

So …   My question to those of you who ARE following the budget you prepare each month is:

What advice would you give this person?   How do you ensure that you follow your budget?

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  1. L. Marie Joseph on October 26, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Discipline, think about the feeling once you’re out of debt. Don’t think short term.

    Nothing feels good as being out of debt. Nothing is worth going in debt and becoming a slave

    Think about the prize at the end of the race. Don’t Complain!!

  2. Bob Stoker on October 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I have our Budget posted above the computer desk. Along with the Debt Freedom pictures. So i can see the progress from month to month and know that the Discipline that i have put in to keeping to the Budget is paying off.

  3. Jon Smock on October 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The first step is setting a realistic goal. If you’re *hoping* to stay within a certain amount for a given category, you’re almost doomed to fail. I wouldn’t personally set our “Out to eat” budget at $0, because I know we wouldn’t follow that. Part of budgeting is being real with yourself about what you spend.

    Then the second step is the discipline part. You’ve set the budget amounts so now you have to stick to it. We know we have $250 for groceries each month, and we absolutely cannot go over that.

  4. Nikki on October 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    We leave ourselves open to adjustments from month to month. If we notice that for a few months running, we have a little extra here and not quite enough there, we adjust the budget accordingly. Also, sticking to it takes practice! If you don’t quite succeed the first couple months, stick with it, rather than give up on it altogether. It will become second nature to think about the budget before spending anything. (Especially if you’re only using cash!)

  5. Ginny on October 27, 2010 at 7:25 am

    When I first set my budget, I concentrated on one area first – for me it is the most important area – tithes. I would set aside my tithe and right the check before anything else on pay day. I would let the other areas drift a little off budget, but not my tithes. After a few months, this became a really easy task for me and I had a few months worth of budget to see what was actually spent where. From there, I adjusted my amounts and concentrated a little more on the next target area.

    I think it’s best if you continuously work on adjusting your budget for a few reasons. Probably the first is that it keeps you focused. Also, as debt is reduced and savings is built, priorities may shift. Different times of year require different things-certain holidays and summer require more travel, but maybe less for groceries.

  6. TurtleLover on October 27, 2010 at 8:42 am

    for me it helped to have an accountability buddy. Just a person to whom you show your budget … not somebody to nag or criticize but to
    keep you in check for your spending or point out things that maybe you did not notice (gee.. TurtleLover… you’ve gone over your budget on Turtle food every month for the last 5 months maybe you should change that….) When you quit smoking they tell you to tell at least one person, when you quit drinking you get a sponsor… so it’s kinda like that.
    I’ve been consumer debt free for 10 months now and I still show my montly budget spreadsheet just to HELP keep me on track.

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