Whether you are using the computer to produce a budget or you’re putting something down with a pen and a paper, one problem is the same. It’s tough to use your budget in day to day life, because life is too fast paced for that. You don’t have the time to carry around a spreadsheet all day, every day, checking to make sure that an expenditure falls within the parameters of what you are able to do. Even if you did have the time or energy to do this, it would be a bad idea because no one would want to be around you if you were to do this. So what are you supposed to do if you want to stick to a budget in your everyday life?
Take care of fixed weekly costs on a routine basis
A good example of this is gasoline. Each of has different gas budgets, depending upon where we live, what kind of car we drive, and how much we are required to drive for work or school. With that said, if you are the type of person that needs one tank of gas per week, you should go get that tank on Monday each week. Get it right out of the way, so that the money is taken out of your operating budget at the same time each week. If you are the type of person who needs more than that, then get your first tank and set aside the money for each tank in cash, so that you can spend it when necessary. The key to maintaining a budget is to get used to it, so you have to start with a routine.
Planning your meals and trips to the grocery store
One of the keys to maintaining and managing your budget in everyday life is to control food costs. Whether you are feeding an entire family or you’re just a single guy or girl, food costs will make up a significant portion of your day to day expense. Figure out at the beginning of each week when you are going to eat out. One of the biggest drains on your finances will come in the form of trips to a fast food restaurant. If you need to do this a few times per week, then ration out that money at the start. Otherwise, plan well and prepare your meals accordingly.
Another part of this is planning your trips to the grocery store. As with your gasoline, you will want to go to the grocery store on a routine basis. When you are there, make sure that you stay within your budget limits and make sure that you are buying food with the intent of preparing meals later in the week. This is one place where it is appropriate to bring lists, so you should go to the grocery store prepared to spend only as much as you have budgeted each week.
Taking cash and coin out of the equation
When we have two dollars and fifty cents in our pocket, we will have the tendency to spend that little bit of money on something that we don’t need and we haven’t budgeted for. For instance, you might pick up a drink out of a drink machine or you might buy two pieces of gum. If you want to stay on track with your budget, take that money out of your pocket and put it into the bank. Though it might only seem like a couple of dollars, those can really add up when you look at them over the course of an entire fiscal year. Put them in the bank, or put them in savings if you have that option.
Control your uncontrolled spending
What does this mean? It means that you have to limit those times when your spending is somewhat unregulated. Depending upon your age, this might mean going out to the bars or perhaps taking the family out to dinner. Make sure that you are not putting yourself in a position where your card is held for a tab. Chart every cost and every expense, as this will help you manage your budget successfully on a daily basis.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.