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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tips & Tricks for Sticking to Your Budget

Enough with the well-meant, but poorly executed New Year’s resolutions. You have got enough experience under your belt to know that strategy is just never going to cut it. If you are going to actually address your diet, you are going to have to do something more substantial than make empty promises to yourself. 

But this post is not about diets. It’s about budgets: you know, the other thing we tend to lie to ourselves about when the new year rolls around. Funnily enough, diets and budgets have an awful lot in common besides being failure fodder for the new calendar. We are convinced that they are really important, and that we really want to do them. 

Sticking to Your Budget

But we fail for many of the same reasons. It should come as no surprise that the characteristics for success are also similar. Here are some tips and tricks for successful budgeting that we can glean from successful dieting:

Educate Yourself

When tackling the big D, the first thing a person should do, but seldom does, is educate herself about nutrition and biology. Rather than doing that, we just go with our gut and prior assumptions about how diet and weight loss should work. What we should do is talk to friends who have been successful at shedding the pounds, or take a class at the community college.

Self education is just as important when it comes to budgeting. The school system barely teaches math. They don’t even attempt to teach personal finance. If we have any hope of doing it well, we have to start with a solid education. 

As with dieting, you can start with your friends and social networks.In fact, many financial advice companies are seeking, is to increase word of mouth through social networks. Find out what has worked for them, that should give you a solid place to start.

If that is not enough, you might want to find a community college and take a course. 

Find a Compelling Reason

If you are only dieting because mass marketing has convinced you to do it, then you are going to get off to a bad start. And it will go downhill from there. What you need is a good understanding of nutrition, and a compelling reason to improve yours, Try not to let a medical emergency become your incentive.

Budgets are the same way. If you hope to be successful, you have to have a compelling reason to do it, something that will keep you motivated even when it is no longer new and fun. Three compelling reasons from this list of ten is that you:
  • Give yourself control
  • Improve relationships
  • Prepare yourself for emergencies
Budgeting is only difficult when your reasons for doing it are not compelling enough.

Don’t Go It Alone

Often, new dieters attempt to go it alone because they do not want to have to face their friends if things don’t work out. Also, they may be ashamed to admit that they need to go on a diet. There are any number of reasons why a person might want to keep it on the down low. Every one of those reasons are bad. Dieting is not about your pride, but about your health. An accountability partner can make all the difference.

Likewise with budgeting. Some attributes of a financial accountability partner are:
  • Complete trustworthiness
  • Willingness to hurt your feelings
  • Willingness to help you make big decisions
  • Someone who is already successful
  • Willingness to put in the time and effort.
There are no guarantees. But with an accountability partner, a compelling reason, and a solid educational foundation, your chances of budgetary success are greatly increased.

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