Creating the perfect budgeting system isn’t easy, but the more you view money management as an ongoing practice rather than a yearly or quarterly event, the more likely you are to succeed.
Get started by outlining your current expenses as well as your short- and long-term goals and then consider embracing these three practical tips.
1. Adjust Your Mindset
Many people feel like they’re failing at budgeting if they fall short of a savings target or forget to log a few expenses. The reality is that your situation will always fluctuate, so instead of getting bogged down by dollars and cents, establish a realistic range for each spending category and strive for balance over time.
Occasionally you might miss your mark. Instead of feeling discouraged and giving up, keep focusing on your big picture goals -- like paying off your debt or building a retirement fund -- and allow for some flexibility to get there.
2. Identify Your Style
If the idea of opening up a spreadsheet makes you wince but you’ll happily tap on your phone all day long, explore budgeting apps with attractive dashboards, helpful alerts and other intuitive features. If you tend to spend more time with ink and paper, invest in a quality notebook or journal and give analog budgeting a go.
3. Keep Looking Forward
Now that you’ve committed to an initial budgeting process, look for ways to stay agile and be open to improving your methods over time. When you expect your budgeting activities to evolve and grow along with you, you’ll be less likely to abandon this helpful habit and more likely to reap the rewards of smart planning.