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5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Budget Consistently
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals” – E. James Rohn.
Consistency is closely related to perseverance, an important quality for doing the money journey well.
The above quote closely captures my exact thoughts when I think about the fundamentals of money management.
What I tend to find is that ideas such as budgeting sound good upfront.
However, using it to improve one's financial situation in a consistent manner is the challenge.
Some start, stop and start again. Others don't even start at all for one reason or another.
Yet, they'd be the first to tell you how great it would be to budget.
Something doesn't quite make sense and I'd hate to be the one to say that budgeting is easy.
It isn't upfront but becomes easier the more it is practiced, prioritised and turned into a habit.
Budgeting is also made easier if you're aware of the resistance and ready to fight it whenever the opportunity arises.
I also realise that a lot of this journey to becoming better at budgeting is a process of its own.
Although I understand the idea and need to budget more than the average person, it didn't come naturally to me.
I too had years of fruitless efforts to budget regularly, and on reflection, realise that in those early years, it wasn't top of my priority list.
Some of the thoughts I share below are examples of how budgeting could eventually become a priority for you:
1. Set Real & Clear Goals
Every year without fail, we set goals at home around various headlines.
Areas such as relationships, business, money, faith, careers, children, fun etc.
We usually write them in ink and then create an electronic version for easy reference.
Whenever I look back at these goals over the years, they indicate how much we have grown as time passed.
None of that growth would have happened without the goals being set in the first place.
Are you a goal setter? Did you set goals in January and have no idea what they are now?
Not setting goals at all is a missed opportunity to design a future that you can look forward to.
What I find with our goals is that we have two broad groups of goals:
- Long-term die-hard goals
- Smaller goals with shorter life spans
Usually, the second group of goals feed into the first, but not always.
Budgeting forms a part of the smaller goals, but with an important long-term outcome.
One of our long-term goals, for example, on the path to financial independence was paying off our mortgage early.
As this was one of our long-term die-hard goals, so did all the small steps necessary for such a goal to be achieved.
Budgeting consistently across the board was one such small step and was necessary for winning the battle daily.
It continues to be extremely important today and will always be because it has bedded in as part of how we do life.
So if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to budget today, my question to you is –
How real are your goals?
There will ofcourse be those who don’t make enough money for various reasons, and one might argue that budgeting would be less of a priority.
I’d argue that if you are making a low or irregular income, you should be more motivated than others to ensure that your money stretches.
A final point on goal setting is to keep them as visual as possible. The more you see it, the more you’ll do what it takes to achieve it.
2. Share Notes With Others
One guaranteed way to stay motivated with budgeting is to share your thoughts with someone else you trust.
A friend of mine recently texted me, for example, to tell me that she was joining a challenge to only buy essentials in October.
What was interesting about this was that October’s is actually her birthday month, and this would require considerable willpower.
Although she might not have intended it, sending me that message meant that she was now committed.
I’ve learned that going public with certain things you want to do is one way of holding your foot to the fire.
This is exactly what I did 10 months ago when I wanted to launch this site. I was this close to backing away and not going ahead.
In the end, I thought, I’ve been here before. I must jump! And so I did.
In the same way, if you seriously want to be held account to a budget, get someone trusted involved.
They might even be able to share some of their hacks with you.
3. Pain Of Paying
One of my favourite psychologists is Dan Ariely, who wrote the must-read book – Predictably Irrational.
He does amazing work on the psychology of money and did an interesting experiment on what happens when you pay with cash vs credit card.
Which do you think is easier and therefore less painful? Credit card ofcourse!
In fact, I’ve written previously about why money should be made more real and how we’re more motivated to spend more when we pay with plastic.
The pain of paying adds a moral tax to our consumption. As a result, it changes how we feel about paying for things.
What does all this have to do with budgeting? One of the reasons why many are unable to stick to budgeting is tied to the disconnect with money flow.
Put simply, the more you pay with cash, the more pain of paying you will feel. As such, you’re more likely to stick to a budget.
If you want to learn more about this research, check out Dan Ariely below on The Pain Of Paying:
4. Ongoing Review
One of the best ways to spot patterns in your spend, which might point to some bad habits financially, is to compare your actual spend month on month.
Typically, we’re thinking about how we’ll make the next mortgage, rent or utility payment etc.
However, to get better with managing your money, it helps to take a step back and see how you’ve spent money.
A good way of doing this is to download your electronic bank statement activity for about 3 months, and sort by recurring and non-recurring spend.
This ofcourse requires you to set aside some time, and I promise, this will be time well spent.
I’d recommend you have a recurring “Money Day” in your diary for doing a review of your finances.
We have one in our family, and I usually use that day to ensure automated payments are all working and also to update our net worth.
An ongoing review of your prior month expenses might throw up irregularities, which usually point to the lack of a budget.
5. Use The Right Tools
For a lot of people, budgeting is a pain because it is fiddly and time-consuming.
As such, there is often no motivation to budget as it’s yet another thing to do.
We personally budget on Excel and keep an eye on areas such as food shopping on the go.
Excel remains our favourite tool for privacy reasons as well as for ease of flexibility. Feel free to grab a copy in the FREE Practical Money Course.
However, there are more modern Free tools to explore such as Money dashboard.
The great thing about such apps is that they take away the pain of categorising your expenses for you.
You also get beautiful charts showing you where you are spending money and can set a budget for various categories of expenses.
For more money saving tools, check out My Best Resources page.
- 15 Tips To Help You Stick To Your Budget
- How To Create A Budget That Works For You
- Don’t Get Overwhelmed, Get Budgeting
- How We Live Well On A £50 Per Week Food Budget (Family of 4)
Do you budget consistently? If so, how do you stay motivated? If not, what’s your main struggle? Please comment below.
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.