Let’s face it, budgeting isn’t always the funnest thing in the world to do. Those of us that get somewhat excited about it are a rare breed, and to the normal person it’s actually pretty boring. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of people don’t have very good budgeting skills, it simply doesn’t pique their interest. Regardless of whether you like to do it or not, budgeting is a necessity in our lives. So how can you help yourself? By doing things that help to make budgeting easier or (dare I say) more fun, you make it more likely that you’ll actually do it on a consistent basis. When it comes to budgeting, consistency is the key. Here are 5 fives to beat the budgeting blues.
1 – Get Everyone Involved
One way to make it fun is to budget with the whole family. Not only does it help to teach everybody money management skills, it can turn into some sort of family bonding time. The more time you spend together, the more excited you’ll become about working your budget since you all can do it as a team. It also helps everyone’s confidence because they feel like they’re involved.
2 – Create goals, and rewards
Give yourself an incentive (other than just more money) to do better with your budget. Set up savings or payment goals, and decide to treat yourself to a little something if you hit them. Once you start to achieve a couple of them, it should basically just be a part of your normal routine. Starting off with those special incentives can help you get over the hump and help you build lasting money management behaviors.
3 – Explore your options
Hopefully you have some semi-automated way to deal with your budget. Personally, I just use a simple spreadsheet to give me a quick look into my monthly finances but it allows me to easily create variations with the numbers. By seeing what a little change in your savings or spending habits can do to your monthly finances, it starts to become like a game to me. Giving yourself the opportunity to see where you could be as well as where you are can really spark a lot of ideas of what you really want to do with your finances. For the most part your budget can be boring, but when you’re exploring new paths with it the excitement picks up.
4 – Put the “fun” back in your budget
I talk constantly about the importance of adding fun into your budget, and I want to reiterate it again. To often we get caught up in our wanting to save as much as possible that we forget to focus on the quality of our lives as well. Budgeting skills are very important, but make sure you add a set amount of money aside each month for recreational purposes. How much is up to you, and chances are it will fluctuate throughout the year, but it is absolutely crucial to give yourself some set aside “fun” money. In order to make any budgeting plan last, you really need your little times here and there when it feels like you’re not focusing on just the money.
5 – Think of your budget differently
Part of the problem with budgeting is that if it doesn’t interest you, it’s hard to keep up with. One thing you can do to combat that is by correlating your budget with something that you enjoy. For instance, instead of looking at it like you have to save $250 a paycheck to build up enough to buy a house, look at as each paycheck you get another 1% of your housing fund. It may not seem like much of a difference, but that slight change in thinking does two things. First of all, it shifts the focus to the house (something you’re interested in) instead of the money (something you’re not). Second, it puts a finite number to the problem. Instead of just saying $250 a check, which can last forever, we say 1% of your goal. That means that you can track your progress every month and you know that once you reach 100%, you’ve achieved it.
Even if budgeting isn’t your particular forte, being able to master it is important in daily life. We all have our interests and goals for our lives, and the simple fact is that money makes a difference in those things. Being that it’s such a necessity in our society we all have to find ways that we can manage it better to achieve the things we really want to. The basic principle is to do whatever you have to in order to make budgeting easier or more interesting to you. This list should hopefully just get you started if you’re stuck, but over time you can do things that work best for your situation. Whatever you can come up with to help you get your budget under control is basically a gift that keeps on giving.