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:


MoneySmart Raises Series A To Bring Personal Finance Tools To Southeast Asia's ...
For most consumers who aren't Scrooge McDuck, learning about personal finance is like dental checkups—boring, sometimes painful, but necessary. Vinod Nair, the founder and chief executive officer of MoneySmart, wants to change that. The site, which ...


Got A Personal Finance Question? Don't Miss The Bus
Personal finance coach Marsha Barnes doesn't operate out of an office. In fact, she doesn't stay in any single place for too long. By day, 9 to 5, Barnes says she's a corporate trainer. But she also takes her business on the road, all over her ...

and more »

News' personal finance columnist Pamela Yip dies at 59
Dallas Morning News
For the last 16 years, Pamela Mary Yip helped Dallas Morning News readers navigate the obstacles of personal finance. Her columns covered all of life's economic stages, including planning for college expenses and saving for retirement. And she handled ...

and more »

Cameron Huddleston: 3 destructive money behaviors to stop today
Cameron Huddleston writes for GOBankingRates.com ( ), a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out ...

and more »

NerdWallet (blog)

'Ladders' Help You Build a Flexible Personal Finance Plan
NerdWallet (blog)
Building a financial “ladder” means buying a series of bonds, CDs or other financial products that have different maturity dates. This way, rather than tie up all your money in a single investment for a long time, you have multiple products maturing at ...

and more »


3 Realities That Make Personal Finance Different for Entrepreneurs
In my experience, financial planners and entrepreneurs see the world from completely different perspectives. And they each think the other is a little bit crazy. For example, financial planners think entrepreneurs love risk; whereas entrepreneurs ...

A Personal Finance Checklist For Entrepreneurs
In my experience, the typical “financial advisor” or retirement planner just doesn't understand entrepreneurs or business owners. They're used to the W-2 employee who is content to passively funnel money into 401(k)s and IRAs full of mutual funds. But ...

AboutLife, Focused On Personal Finance, Debuts With $3 Million In Funding From ...
There's no shortage of services trying to drive traditional financial planners into extinction. Think Wealthfront, Personal Capital, Betterment and Intuit-owned Mint.com, among them. Today, another company personal finance tools company is publicly ...

and more »

Q&A: Calvert Investments chief talks sustainable investing
The impetus around sustainable development is asking management to simply do a great job managing these parts of their business, as well as managing the financial side of the business. It's simply the next step in the evolution of capitalism. We need ...

and more »


Personal finance guru Singletary shares the secrets of saving
In a conversation with WBFO, Michelle Singletary displayed two dominant traits: the easy, charismatic demeanor that has helped her become a nationally-syndicated financial writer and a passionate distaste for wasting money.

Google News

Debt Management ? More Ways to Save on Gas Consumption

The price of gas continues to climb, and with continued... Read More

Banks Are More Than Just A Place To Park Your Money

If you've been to a shopping mall lately, you've probably... Read More

Family Money Management: The Importance of Agreement

Are you having problems with debt? Are you afraid to... Read More

Eight Ways To Sink Yourself Financially

1. Don't focus on your finances.The reason most people get... Read More

Vacations Made Easy: Buying a Florida Investment Property

Vacations Made Easy: Buying a Florida Investment PropertyA relaxing beach... Read More

Chex Systems ? Why Every American Needs To Guard His Checking Account With His Life

Most Americans have been brought up to be concerned about... Read More

Five Secrets for Long-term Financial Success

Future financial success is not a guarantee that any one... Read More

Money Matters: Strengthen Your Marriage by Putting Finances in Order

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

What Are We Teaching our 2005 Graduates about Money?

Now that we are in the month of June I... Read More

How To Get Ahead On A Low Income

Do you struggle from week to week trying to make... Read More

Developing a budget? Watch out for Those Budget-Bursting Gremlins

If you've developed a household budget to get your spending... Read More

Introduction to Australian Superannuation

Australians, in general, constitute some of the worst savers in... Read More

7 Simple Ways To Save Money

Each of us knows how to spend money, but do... Read More

Take Control and Master Your Kitchen

Those who keep a watchful eye on where their money... Read More

What Happens if You Die Without Making a Will

If you die without making a Will in the UK,... Read More

Knowing Me, Knowing You: Why ID Protection Plans Are Flawed For Fraud

ID theft is a major consumer concern, though there is... Read More

Save Money on Gas

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

Resources to Help You Learn About and Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

There is a new bill that is being passes, it... Read More

Are You Ready To Be Fired?

Your boss has just informed you that your department is... Read More

How To Survive The Grocery Shopping Blues

If you are the normal consumer, then you've probably experienced... Read More

Safely Save for Your Childs University Studies Using An Education IRA!

This investment retirement account (IRA) is useful to you as... Read More

Roth IRA Contributions - IRS Rules

Confused about whether you can contribute to a Roth IRA?... Read More

Expenses A ? What Are They And What Can We Do About Them

It is crucial as an individual who is striving for... Read More

Budgeting Made Easy

Well, dang! From what I've heard and read, it looks... Read More

I Want to Buy a Home - Now What?

If you were to ask 100 women "What would you... Read More