How to Stick to a Budget- 48 Tips

It's hard to stick to a budget, and can be frustrating when you keep going over. Read these tips to start improving your finances today.
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Great you’ve got a budget… but now what?

Sticking to a budget can be difficult.  There are good months and bad months.  But don’t let that get you down.  Here are 48 ways to help you stick to a budget.

48 ways to Stick to a Budget

Download FREE Budgeting Worksheets now and get started preparing your finances.  

1. Be Honest

When setting up your budget, be honest in what you spend money on.  If you typically spend $600 on groceries a month, cutting that in half to $300 won’t help you stick to it.  Try scaling it down $50 at a time.

Just because the budget says so, doesn’t mean you’ll follow it

2. Start Small

Be sure to cut your spending, and increase your savings small steps at a time.  This will allow you “quick wins” and encourage you to stick to a budget more.

3. Give yourself an allowance

This allows YOU money to spend, without feeling like you “can’t spend anything” because it’s all tied up into your budget needs.

4. Unsubscribe

From ALL retailers- those emails and bonus coupons can be great (but only when you need them).  When you don’t need them, they’re just encouraging you to spend money.  Allow yourself to stick to a budget and not be tempted by them.

5. Delete retailer apps

On your phone- for the same reason as above.  It leads to random shopping, and spending when you weren’t planning on needing anything.

6. Pack your own lunch

And make sure it’s a simple one.  Peanut Butter and Jam, with some fruit, veggies, and nuts will keep you just as full (or more), than the freezer microwave meals or pre-made wraps.  It’ll save you money AND improve your health.

7. Set up Auto Draft

This is a great way to “sneak” money into your savings.  If you know the dates you’ll be paid (like the 1st and 15th), set up an auto draft to take $50 a month out for Christmas.  Then when that time of the year comes around, you won’t be going over budget.

8. Exercise

At home, or outside- this allows you to save money from going to a gym, and put that money to other needed categories in your budget.

9. Learn how to say “No”

No to yourself, to your family, to your friends.  If it’s something you feel obligated to buy (such as going out to a restaurant), or talked into it, then the answer should be “no”.  If they want you to go to a concert with them, but it’s not in your budget, say “no”.

10. Send in all your Rebates

YES!  I find most of our rebates are with home improvement projects.  This allows us to stick to our budget in our “home improvement” area, since we get some money back from the rebate.

11. Make DIY household supplies

I make my own laundry and dishwasher detergent.  But there are so many MORE you can make via Pinterest.

12. Stop making extra stops

Tell yourself Starbucks- or any other “morning need” (pop from the gas stop) isn’t worth it.  Make your own at home, or buy your own.  Both will save you time and money.

13. Review your account statements

And be sure you were charged correctly, or not double charged.

14. Shop at Thrift Stores

ESPECIALLY for kids clothes.  They tear holes in them, stain them, and don’t even wear them sometimes.  As a mother of 4, learn from me, and buy from the thrift store.  You’ll be much happier when they rip a hole in their $3 shorts than their $15 ones.  This also includes you!  If you have a clothing item you need, but know you won’t be wearing it often, find something at a thrift store.

Even if you don’t love thrift stores… there is still a quality store somewhere that’s cheaper than your usual $100 for a pair of pants.

15. Meal Planning

Yes, this WILL help you stick to your budget.  You may find it constricting, but after a few weeks you’ll realize your freedom.  No wondering your kitchen or digging in your pantry trying to figure out what to make for a last minute meal.  And no more random items jumping into your grocery cart at the store.  Read more about 10 ways to save grocery shopping (without using coupons)

16. Get used to walking out of the checkout lines

I can’t tell you how many times I’m standing in line for one item… and I think “Do I really need this?”  Or am I just buying it because they didn’t have what I needed, and got hooked up with something else that looked good.

It is OK to tell your self you don’t need it, and walk back out of that checkout line.  Talk yourself out of purchases.

17. Use Cash Only

To be honest, we don’t do this.  Cash only allows you to “feel the pain” when buying items.  Personally, we feel it too difficult to manage all the cash.  Instead we check our credit card accounts every day, and write those transfers in Quicken… typing those transfers in allows us to “feel the pain” too.

Click here to download your FREE Budgeting Worksheets today.

18. Track your Spending

Tracking your spending (esp if you aren’t using cash) with help you to know what you are spending money on throughout the month.  You’ll also start to notice those $3 coffee runs, or $10 meals with your co-workers start to add up.  Here are a few things to look for, when determining a money tracking tool.

19. Use multiple bank accounts

We have 2 separate ones (both include checking and savings).  One is where we put your 3 month emergency fund.  This allows us to NEVER use this money, and we don’t see it often, so we aren’t tempted to use it.

20. Divide it up

Another way to stick to a budget is to divide up your “budget”.  You have $80 in your date fund for the month.  That is $20 a week per date, or $40 every 2 weeks per date.  This gives you a limit and allows you to use that fund throughout the month.

21. Stop Recreational Shopping

AKA boredom shopping.  Read more about tips to end recreational shopping here.

22. Don’t spend money you don’t have

I know this is obvious… but so many people still continue to go into debt for little things (new appliances and such).

23. Set Goals

Living on a budget is nice… but why are you doing it?  If you’re doing it to get out of debt, or save up for a new car, then you’ll stick to a budget much better with that goal in mind.

24. Look at your Calendar

If you know you have 3 baby showers to go to next month, be sure to limit your spending that month in other areas, to cover those gifts.  Another idea is for Fathers/Mothers Day Gifts.  The money we put into our “Christmas Fund”, we also use for Mothers/Fathers day gifts, and allow ourselves up to $50 per person.  Then by Christmas time, we know exactly what we’ll have to work with.

25. Pay off high interest debt first

The less you spend on interest rates, the more wiggle room you’ll have in your budget.

26. Don’t SAVE your credit card information onto online stores

It makes it harder to buy something.  This 1. allows you more time to think about it when you go get your wallet.  And 2. you’ll buy it “later” when you have more time, then talk yourself out of it.

27. Negotiate prices

Check with the store to see if they will price match an item.

28. Borrow from the library

They have all kinds of books and other learning resources.  Learn how to do many home improvement projects versus paying for someone to do them.  And save on your pleasure budget by borrowing books rather than buying them.

29. Water is cheap

Save on your grocery budget and don’t buy coffee, juices, and pops.  ALSO, don’t constantly buy bottled water.  Refill water bottles throughout the day.  And be sure to use ice cube trays so you don’t have to buy ice.

30. Don’t waste water

Although it might be cheap… you don’t want to have your sprinkler on for hours during the summer if you kids aren’t actually playing in it.  Try using a Rain Water Collection Barrel to use this water for your garden and plants to help save on the cost of water.

31. Don’t keep your credit cards and wallet by your computer

That makes it too easy to purchase items.

Click here to download your FREE Budgeting Worksheets today.

32. Stick to your shopping lists

Groceries, home improvement, ALL OF THEM.  And use these 10 ways to save on grocery shopping.

33.  Leave your credit cards at home

Or in the car.  If you are going to go shopping for something to do, and you don’t need to buy anything, don’t bring them.

34. Wait, wait, and wait a little bit longer

This is hard.  I know!  But it is totally worth it!  I make a list on my phone that’s a “want list”.  And typically, every 3 months I’m taking stuff off the list and adding more on.  Only allowing myself to by things a few times a year really makes me think about what I want to spend money on.

If you are making a BIG purchase (say $500 or more), be sure to think about it for at least a month.  If you’re buying a car or house, research the market for 2-3 months before setting on one.  Another “good price” will always come along.

35. Research, research, research

When you are looking to invest in an expensive product, like I mentioned above, you want to wait.  BUT you also want to research.  Look for the best quality product you need, and for the best deals.  This allows you to stay within your budget and find a product within your means.

36. Never go grocery shopping hungry

You will ALWAYS end up buying more than you choose… and if you are pregnant, then this is even worse!

37. Use budgeting worksheets

And review them weekly!

38. Eat a small snack before going to a restaurant

Or drink up on water.  Then you aren’t as full and will order less.

39. Respect your money

Act like your money is something that is precious and you need to hold safe, like a family heirloom.  You don’t want to give it away, but want it to be passed down from generation to generation.  This will allow you to put more into savings for your future and encourage you to stick to a budget.

40. Have an accountability partner

It may need to be someone other than your spouse… maybe a friend who has a hard time spending too much as well.  Create a budget together, and see who can “stick to a budget” the best.

41. Don’t watch commercials

Lets be honest… we still get sucked into buying items we don’t need.

42. Your spending is who you are

You’ve heard of you are what you eat right?  You are what you spend.  Start thinking about it that way, and you’ll quit buying some items.

43. Sleep on your purchases

If you bought something big… don’t open it right when you get home.  Sleep on it one night, then if you still feel good about the buy, then keep it.  If not, return it.  This will save you regret later.

Click here to download your FREE Budgeting Worksheets today.

44.  Put extra money into savings

Did you go under budget?!  Great!  Stick to your budget buy putting it into savings, and using it for a major expense.

45. Learn how to save on power and utilities

Read about saving tips on your AC this summer to help lower the bills.

46. Don’t set it and forget it

Be sure to look about it, think about it, and most importantly, make changes to your budget.

47. Make do, or go without

Are you thinking of upgrading to a new house or car?  Think again.  It won’t save you money in the long run.

Sometimes the simple life is the easy life.  It’ll help you stick to a budget.

48. Don’t fall for technology

No, you don’t need a new smart phone every 2 years, and it WON’T save you money upgrading it every 2 years.  Stick to your budget.  Save for a year for your next laptop, phone, or computer.  And be sure to research it too!  We just spend $800 on a new desktop and monitor.  This is something we’ve needed and thought about and planned in our budget for almost a year.  Take the time when making large investments, especially the technology related ones.

In conclusion

There are so many ways and tips you can use to stick to a budget.  Start with 1, then add more and more to your list to work on.  Sticking to a budget can be overwhelming, but you can also make it fun!

What is your #1 tip to stick to a budget? Comment below and help fellow readers out!  

Tips from readers:

One thing we do to keep from eating out (which is easily our favorite pastime) is that I’ve started writing down my cravings when I get them. Then I find a recipe for that and put it on the menu. If it still sounds good come grocery shopping time, we keep it on the menu.

If you have a blog post that relates to this, send me an email and I’ll be sure to link it up.

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Further Reading:

5 Ways to Start a Budget

8 Reasons you are Always Over budget… and the Solutions

4 Questions to Ask before Setting Up a Budget

If you liked this post, please let us know by leaving a comment below and clicking those share buttons to tell your friends. As always, we appreciate you taking a minute of your time to spread the word about preparedness.


Every Dollar, Smart Asset. Life Hack, Bustle, US Money News

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