So you have a family budget. There’s only one problem – you haven’t stuck with it! Maybe your budget is nicely outlined and detailed, but sits unused on your computer or in your desk drawer.
Formulating a budget is a challenge, but once you have it done, it doesn’t do any good unless you stick with it. Of course, sometimes you do need to compromise, and your budget does need to be somewhat flexible. But you can periodically tweak and adjust your budget and still stick to it. Here are some creative and even fun tips for sticking with your budget.
Have a Look-See
Maybe your budget didn’t work out because it didn’t fit your needs. Take a fresh look at your budget and ask some of the following questions:
* Is it too detailed? You might find it exhausting trying to keep a budget that has dozens of categories.
* Is it too simple? If your budget is too general, you may have let it slide because there just weren’t enough details to get a true grasp on your finances.
* Does your budget include alternatives? If your family is not the creative type, you may have had trouble coming up with alternatives to the budget cutbacks. For instance, if your budget revealed that you needed to cut back on eating out, and you didn’t have an alternative plan for what you were going to do instead of eating out, you might have slipped up and deviated from your budget. For some people, this is natural; others need to write in alternatives.
* Are you realistic about your income? A budget may fail if your income section is more about goals and ideals than actuals.
* Are there rewards? A budget should have some rewards worked into it – a vacation, a movie out, or a new pair of shoes.
Include Fun Alternatives
As noted above, having alternatives to fill the void created by cutbacks is helpful to keeping your budget. Having creative and fun alternatives may be even more helpful. Here are some ideas.
* Instead of eating lunch out, pack a fun lunch Bento-style.
* Lunch-in can be a fun picnic, indoor or outdoor.
* Staying home for dinner can be fun if it involves a cookout or, if you’re really in the mood to be creative, experimenting with a homemade solar oven.
* Cutting back by getting rid of cable need not be too painful – high-speed internet access is generally a whole lot cheaper than cable, and the family can have fun gathering around the computer for movie night online.
* Instead of going to the movies, make your own. Have a family make-a-movie night and put on plays, puppet shows, or what-have-you. Capture the fun using your digital camera or webcam.
* Look up how to make your own skin cleansers, household cleaners, and even shampoo online. Learn how you can make these things for pennies, saving by shunning store-bought versions and having fun in the process.
Sometimes, just getting creative and customizing your budget to fit your family can go a long way toward encouraging everyone to stick with it.