10 Tips to Make Sure Your Financial Budget Will Succeed

You've analyzed your past expenses, put them into spreadsheets, loaded Quicken with all of your data and come up with a budget. Now what? The tough part! You actually have to stick to your budget and put your plans into action. This is easier said than done. In many cases you will have forgotten about your budget and your financial goals 6 months or a year down the road. How do you keep this from happening to you?

Here's how. Make sure you follow some of these tips below so this doesn't happen to you.

1. Create a budget with realistic targets ? Let's say one of your budget goals is to not eat out for lunch or dinner on a regular basis. If you are honest with yourself you may find this to be an unrealistic goal. Sometimes it's a nice break to eat out and have a relaxing rewarding evening. In other words, don't set the bar too high. Drastic and unrealistic goals are one of the surefire ways your budget will not succeed.

2. Budget for expenses that don't occur on a routine basis ? Make sure you give consideration to expenses that occur once a year, such as holiday presents, birthdays, vacations, weddings, car maintenance costs, etc. These expenses don't occur every month and they will bust your budget plans wide open. Make a list of these events on a calendar and put a dollar figure to them. Place them in the month they are expected to occur so you can plan in advance how you will pay for them. The regular routine expenses are not the reason your budget will fail. It is these "gotchas" that will wreck havoc on your budget if you don't plan for them.

3. Put your budget in writing ? Take the time to write down your budget plans. Making a mental note of your budget goals is a recipe for failure. Don't assume that your financial future will take care of itself by making a simple mental note to yourself. If you have your budget goals detailed in writing you can review and remind yourself weekly and monthly of your financial goals.

4. If you have a bad month or week, don't give up! ? Let's say you have been reaching your budget goals for three months. In the fourth month, for whatever reason, you didn't reach your budget goals. Maybe you even stopped trying to stick to your budget! If this happens, don't just throw your hands up in the air and admit to failure. Everyone falls off the wagon sometimes. Your budget is a journey. There will be bumps in the road, so the key is to realize that everyone makes mistakes. This relates to a story I like about a great old time golfer named Walter Hagen. Before each round of golf, he told himself that he would have 4 or 5 bad shots. During the golf round, if he hit his ball into a bunker, he would tell himself, "There is one of my bad shots that I was expecting", hit the ball out of the bunker and move on. It didn't phase him one bit because he had knew there would be some bad shots in his round.

5. Adjust your budget over time ? This one is a biggie! It can take months or even years to fine tune a personal budget. When you initially made your budget plans, you probably had to guess at some of your figures. They might not have been in touch with the realities of every day life. For example, you may have underestimated your monthly grocery or utility bills. If this happens, analyze all of the underlying money that was spend in this category to see if your initial estimate was unrealistic. If it was, try to come up with a more accurate number and then to stick to that new figure. It is this type of adjustment that is one of the keys to making sure you can stick to your budget.

6. Review your budget every month ? This is where you will make any adjustments that are needed. Set aside the first day of each new month to review your income and expenditures and match them to your budget goals. By actively reviewing your finances and comparing it to your budget, you can adjust your spending habits. This gives you a chance to analyze areas that exceeded your budget expectations and make the adjustments in your spending habits or your budget. The goal here is to not forget about your budget. One tip that has worked for me is to put a printout of my basic budget goals on the refrigerator. That way every day, several times a day, I would notice my budget goals sheet. I may not read it every time, but I notice it and it reminds me that I need to stick to my budget. That is why tip number 3 is so important.

7. Set specific short-term goals ? Let's say one of your budget goals is to have all of your credit card bills paid off in two years. If your credit card balances total $20,000 that would be $10,000 a year. Divide that number further into quarterly reductions in your credit card bills, in this case $2,500 every 3 months. Now, this is a more tangible budget goal to shoot for isn't it? I find that when I divide intermediate and long term goals into short-term tangible stepping stones, I am able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment and am more likely to succeed. This brings us to number seven?

8. Reward yourself ? That's right! Treat yourself when you reach your some of your short-term goals. Since your financial budget is really a journey, take some time to smell the roses on your way. Sticking to your budget should not be a restrictive, unpleasant experience. Not only should you take the time to enjoy your financial accomplishments along the way, but use part of your budget for fun things that you enjoy. Just make sure your rewards don't end up breaking your budget!

9. Pay yourself first ? I'm sure that one of your budget goals is to save and invest a portion of your income. One of the keys to make sure you succeed at this is to do what the IRS does with your paycheck, take it out of your discretionary income immediately. This way, the money is saved away right off the bat. Move the money immediately into a savings or mutual fund account. Many mutual fund companies can setup automatic deductions from your paycheck. Despite your best intentions to save, the hectic, daily demands of life can reduce the amount you are able to save.

10. Attitude is everything ? When most people think of a budget, they picture restrictions and pain. Almost like a diet. You know what happens with most diets? They don't seem work for long! First, if your budget is too strict, too restrictive on your spending, it won't work either. However, you will need to limit your spending in some areas and this will take some adjustment in your attitude. I found that when I am feeling limited and sorry for myself when I can't purchase something that I want, I remember my financial goals I set with my budget. I think about the satisfaction I feel when I reach those goals. Over time, you find that you don't want to disappoint yourself by breaking your spending goals on a spur of the moment purchase. Now, I actually get more pleasure knowing that I am reaching my budget goals when the thought of an impulse purchase crosses my mind.

If you follow these tips, your budget plans are more likely to be a great success. By taking some simple steps you will find that living within a budget is not as tough as you imagined. It can actually be fun and rewarding!

Greg Quincy is the publisher of the website http://www.financialtipsforyou.com, offering his insights and tips that he has gained from working in the financial industry and the economic challenges of raising a family.

In The News:


USA TODAY

5 ways to beef up your retirement savings
USA TODAY
Retirement reporter Nanci Hellmich interviews certified financial planner Jeff Rose, the author of Soldier of Finance, about how to get out of debt and save more aggressively. He has designed a financial evaluation quiz for readers. FULL STORY: Some ...

and more »

TIME

Why Tony Robbins Wrote a Personal Finance Book
TIME
Why Tony Robbins Wrote a Personal Finance Book. 8:30 AM ET. SHARE. Life strategist Tony Robbins tells MONEY the story behind "Money: Master the Game." MONEY Everyday Money Advertising. At Last, You Can Buy Wallpaper and Sheets with Big Macs ...

and more »

Roseville school board insists students learn personal finance
Press Tribune Newspaper
Starting next school year, Roseville Joint Union High School District will require its graduating seniors to know at least the basics of personal finance in order to earn their diplomas. In meeting Tuesday, RJUHSD's board of trustees voted to add a new ...


UA Hosts Statewide High School Personal Finance Challenge
UA News
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences department of consumer sciences will host the Alabama Personal Finance Challenge April 14. Sponsored by the Alabama Council on Economic Education, the ...


Business Insider

13 personal finance experts share their favorite money-saving tricks
Business Insider
There are thousands of ways to save money and make more of it, but chasing after every single tip will likely just make you overwhelmed rather than rich. That's why it's helpful to find out what the experts say are the best ways to save and earn more.


CBS Local

The Simple Rules Of Personal Finance
CBS Local
Founder, Trent Hamm, started The Simple Dollar in 2006 after going through what he termed as a complete financial meltdown. After recovering financially he started a blog on personal finances. He writes from the Average Guy perspective. His blog was ...

and more »

Kiplinger Personal Finance

3 Biggest Urban Myths of Personal Finance
Kiplinger Personal Finance
Urban myths. You know, stories about people's kidneys being stolen or that, say, certain corporate logos have the mark of the beast? These exist in personal finance, too -- maxims about saving, spending and investing that are startling, but also just ...


Personal Finance: Get your documents in order
CapitalGazette.com
Spring has arrived. No other season is as captivating to me as spring. It is a time of new beginnings and possibilities. After much reflection during the winter months, spring is the time for movement. It is a time to act upon those goals, dreams and ...


Wall Street Journal (blog)

5 Tips for Passing a Personal-Finance Stress Test
Wall Street Journal (blog)
Your household finances might be humming along just fine. But would they be able to withstand an unforeseen medical bill or sudden reduction in paid working hours? How about a job loss, furlough or unexpected tax assessment? As the Federal Reserve ...

and more »

GoLocalPDX

Personal Finance: In Investing, Winning Means Being Average
GoLocalPDX
There is a long-running debate regarding whether it is possible for an investor to outperform the broader stock market consistently over time. There are those who believe that there are investors who have an inherent ability to outperform, achieve ...

Google News

Save On Food - Ten Tips

To save on food, be an opportunist. Buy what you... Read More

Save Money on Gas

Gas prices have soared to unimaginable heights of late. Since... Read More

The Wonderful World Of Address Labels

Ever wonder where address labels come from? Avery® is perhaps... Read More

Honor Those Who Serve with Checking Account Supplies

Our global society has had a wake up call in... Read More

How to Attain Your Dreams on a Single Income

If you recently became a single parent and see your... Read More

What is a Traditional IRA?

With a traditional Investment Retirement Account (IRA) you pay taxes... Read More

5 Ways to Absolutely Destroy Your Finances!

Ben Stein has a book called How to Ruin Your... Read More

How Check 21 Affects You

The Check 21 Law is the new federal law for... Read More

Why Live Frugally

What is it about being frugal, why do it at... Read More

More Money? My Cup Runneth Over...But Im Still Thirsty

Most of us, especially those of us who have debtor's... Read More

How To Place an Online Order for Checks ? It is Easy as 1-2-3

If You Have an Existing Account and 5 Minutes, You... Read More

Should You Borrow From Your 401(k) Account?

If you have a 401(k) account, it can be very... Read More

Want Your Savings to Earn a Higher Rate of Return? Try Internet Banking

Doesn't it seem like the only impressive numbers we've seen... Read More

What is ChexSystems?

Commonly referred to as the first of the three major... Read More

Identity Theft is a Major Problem: Whose Responsibility is It to Protect the Consumer?

We have heard a lot about consumers' personal information getting... Read More

Budgeting the Key to being Financially Stable

Single Mother's in need of Financial GuidanceBudgeting is key to... Read More

Benefits of Personal Finance Software

In this age of information, keeping track of your finances... Read More

The Origins of Check Writing

People haven't always written checks to buy goods and services.... Read More

Money Matters: Strengthen Your Marriage by Putting Finances in Order

Did you know that 43% of all married couples argue... Read More

How Electronic Checks Work ? Will Paper Checks Eventually Go Away?

Traditional checks probably won't disappear anytime soon, but processing checks... Read More

The Good and the Bad of Money Management

Good money management needn't be difficult. In fact, there a... Read More

Healthy Eating On A Budget

It is possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet without... Read More

Car Donations and Used Car Donations

Car donations and used car donations are the way many... Read More

Why We Are Never Satisfied with What We Have

I have to admit, I do it too. I complain.... Read More

Personal Loans For Homeowners ? One Of The Numerous Rewards For Being A Homeowner

You no longer look at the pictures of homes cause... Read More