Step 4 – Follow Through or Rinse and Repeat
This is Step 4 of Budget Basics – Look at you! You have completed Steps One through Three of this Budget Basics series, where you have:
- identified your current financial position and spending habits
- identified the financial goals that you want to achieve
- created a budget that you feel will work for you
Wow – you are serious about being debt free and achieving your personal financial goals!
Cultivating the habit of successfully living on a budget requires a focus on your financial goals, consistency in monitoring your spending, sitting down and reviewing your budget and goals every month, and accepting the fact that you can do this!
Since credit card debt is one of the major obstacles between most people and a debt-free life – we recommend that you put your cards away. If paying off your credit cards is one of your financial goals we recommend you take it one step further and put your credit cards in your bank safety deposit box or an equally difficult-to-get-into and safe place.
Try living on a cash-only basis. At the beginning of each week, put the money you have allocated for your purchasing expenses such as food, transportation and entertainment – for that week into envelopes, file folders, containers – whatever works for you (and is a safe way to store your money in your home). When you go to the grocery store, for example, take the budgeted money out of the food envelope. Then, when you come back from the grocery store, record how much you spent on a sheet in your budget binder or your notebook (as discussed in Step 3), put the change and receipt back in the envelope. The better you track your spending, the better you will be able to budget and reduce your expenses. When you have spent the cash – stop spending!
Each month when you sit down to analyze your successes and challenges with your budget and financial goals – remember to keep putting the bar a little higher. Challenge yourself to do better. Find ways to spend less and enjoy more. And when you find ways, be sure to share them with others on this blog.
No one is perfect – there will be good and not-so-good months – recognize your successes and don’t beat yourself up over your slips. You are on the road to a debt-free life – and there are a lot of lessons to learn along the way – but you have a map (your budget), and you will get there.
Get going on your budget – discover how successful you can be!
This is the final step of a four-part series on setting up a workable budget. The entire series can be found on the following pages: