Although budgets can feel restrictive when spending, they remain one of the best ways to keep your finances under control. You can save more and avoid living outside your means, minimizing your chances of suffering financial distress.
However, knowing how important it is to stay on a budget is not enough; depriving yourself and your family, gathering every penny and tracking every expense down to the last cent, will tire you out eventually. This phenomenon, called budget burnout, is enough to get you off track, but luckily there are a few things that can help you defeat burnout.
1. Upgrade Your System
Perhaps the system you are accustomed to using has worked well for you in the past, but it has now started to consume too much of your time and attention. I’ve had similar experiences, so I understand how close it gets you to giving up. However, this shouldn’t avert you from budgeting; it’s a just a sign that you need to move to a better solution.
To give you an example, I followed the envelope system for two years. Although it gave results, I ultimately got sick of having to fill envelopes with money every other week. What’s more, I seemed to always leave the envelopes at home when going for groceries, so I was charging my credit card in the end. I tried to amend these problems by depositing all my cash to my bank account, only to find out that I wasn’t patient enough to monitor each individual debit card transaction; moreover, I was more likely to spend more money this way.
What I do know is to use a prepaid debit card which I load each month with what’s needed for gas, groceries, recreation and any other expenses that may come up, and leave the rest in the bank. Our expenses are strictly paid from our checking account and since our bills are automatically taken care of, it has become easier to maintain the budget plan.
2. Ask for discounts.
According to Janice Lieberman, author of ‘Tricks of the Trade: A Consumer Survival Guide’ and ‘How to Shop for a Husband’, and contributing editor to Reader’s Digest, in the current financial climate, companies are willing to give their customers a discount. However, they won’t do it by themselves, so you have to ask for one. Don’t go overboard, think of a fair price and go for it. If you are denied, ask to speak to the manager and explain your situation. More often than not, you will eventually get your break.
3. Be patient.
For the next month, vow to yourself that you will abstain from making any major purchases without waiting 24 hours first. When you spot something you want, ask the store employee to keep it for you for one day. If the next day comes and you still want it, then go for it. This rule works with any good (gadget, shoes, chocolate) and it is a true money saver.
4. Draw motivation from your friends.
It is a common theme among budgeters to practice saving as a group. When you express your savings goals and your purpose behind them (e.g., house deposit, wedding, or even a donation to a charity), you are able to save more, and in less time, because family and friends will support you. You can use social media to share your financial goals with people you care about.
5. Always check prices.
Spontaneous buying is a mistake that is all too common, as it’s almost certain that you are not getting the lowest possible price. Instead of buying hastily, do a bit of homework first. You can check price comparison sites. For bigger purchases that need more thought, like cars, use a site like Car Buyers Edge for example, which empowers users with inside knowledge of all rebates, incentives and dealer hold backs they are entitled to.