If I had a pound for every time I advise someone to put together a budget I’d be pretty rich by now!
It’s very easy to see the importance of compiling a budget and how it can help someone’s situation to put everything down in black and white.
In principle, it’s a doddle. You put everything down on paper and estimate how much you will spend. That all seems straightforward although underestimating expenditure can be a big problem.
Everyone has good intentions of sticking to a strict budget, whether it will mean you can afford a holiday this year or if it means you’ll be debt free that bit quicker.
Having a goal in mind can indeed help you to keep to a tighter budget than usual but what’s the secret to sticking to it for a long period of time?
If we all knew the answer to that we’d certainly have more money available!
How to make budgeting easier
Unfortunately we can’t tell you how to stick to a budget but we can certainly give you tips on how to make it that bit easier.
The main thing is to make it realistic and not unachievable. One thing that motivates us in the MoneyAware team is to award ourselves with weekly or monthly treats to keep us on track.
We’ve mentioned the types of things we indulge in to keep us motivated; with that in mind have compiled a list of 10 thrifty treats to encourage you too!
1. Treat yourself to the odd lunch here and there
We always preach how much you can save if you pack your lunch at home. Why not allow yourself a little bit of leeway to afford a bought sandwich once in a while?
2. Or if you prefer, a coffee?
Many workplaces offer free tea and coffee but to be honest it doesn’t really taste the same as the grande cappa frappe mocha choca that you’d like to afford every day! Buying one every now and then shouldn’t break the bank.
3. Waste of paper
Most magazines and papers are available online these days and if you have internet access you can read them for free, although many argue that this ‘just isn’t the same’ and like to feel the rustle of the paper in their hands. Rather than buying it daily, use it as your weekly treat to look forward to on a Saturday or Sunday. If you buy one with many sections you could even make it last all week!
4. Treat the kids
I remember my school friend was only allowed one day a week when she could eat sweets and crisps. Enforce this rule and not only will you (and your kids) feel like you’re having a weekly treat but both your bank balance will be healthier.
5. Enjoy a takeaway
Yes, they work out more expensive than making it yourself, but it usually works out cheaper than eating in a restaurant. Look out for the coupons and vouchers to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
6. A moment on the lips…
Chocolate is never good for the waistline but sometimes nothing else will do. Buy a big but inexpensive box which might last you a few days and satisfy the need for a treat.
7. Bring a bottle
Organise a get together at your house and ask everyone to ‘bring their own’. It’s something to look forward to which won’t break the bank and you only have to provide a few nibbles.
8. Listen, watch or read
Depending on your preference, indulge in a new CD, DVD or book. Buy them second hand from the likes of CEX and you could even afford to buy a few.
9. New threads
Everyone should have something put aside in their budget for clothing, so if you’ve saved this money for a few months in a row you should be able to splash out on something new.
10. Look out for local events
Going to see the next big thing at the local arena is always going to cost a fortune but look in your area to see if there are any local bands playing. This can be just as much fun at a fraction of the price.
What’s your vice?
Above all, we definitely say be sensible. Not all budgets can allow for treats and it can mean that you have to sacrifice another area to be able to afford it.
More importantly, be realistic. If the odd treat once in a while helps you to stick to your budget on a long term basis it can be worth it.
What are your little motivating treats? Or do you find if you start spending, you’ll start a spree? We’d love to hear about your budgeting tips.