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STICKING TO A BUDGET EACH MONTH

There is a big difference between making a budget and actually sticking to it. You need to think about your spending habits and tweak them as necessary in order to stay within your limit. There are a number of ways to stick to your budget and actually stay in the green, not in the red each month.

Setting Realistic Budgeting Goals

First of all, be realistic. Sit down and write a list of all the things you spend money on each week. Let's say you have $500 to spend each week - break it down. How much do you spend on groceries, on eating out, on movies, on clothes, on coffees, on lunches, on toys, on entertainment? Try to limit the amount you spend by a little bit by cutting down on the things that are unnecessary.

Don't forget to also factor in all the bills that you have each month. This includes the big bills like paying monthly rent as well as little ones like your phone, your internet, your electricity, your fuel and your gym membership. Some things may come out of your funds automatically through a direct deposit but these also need to be accounted for on your budget spreadsheet.

If you cut back on a lot of these items then you will not be able to make a budget that you can stick to. You need to be sure you are factoring in all the different things and then go from there. You cannot cut out some of the items in your life, like paying the rent, but you can cut down on how much you spend on lunches and cocktails each week.

Preparing For Emergencies

Second of all, prepare for the unexpected. Things break and you may need money right away to fix them. A broken computer can cost $200 to fix which is probably not in the budget. A flat tire can cost $140 to fix and again, this is probably not something you plan for each month. Things go wrong and if you don't have a little money saved up, then this can damage your budget.

Having a little money each month for 'emergencies' is a good idea. Try to put away $200 for emergencies into a specific account. If nothing goes wrong for the month, then you can save it and use it down the road. After five months of stress free living, you will suddenly have $1000 saved up plus interest. But, whatever you do, don't touch it, unless it is for an emergency.

Third of all, always have a little extra saved up for miscellaneous things. This is a little different than emergency funds. Miscellaneous includes things like birthday parties, presents and soccer fees.

They may not come around every month but you will need to have a little saved up. A friend's birthday dinner may cost you $40 while your son may be invited to a birthday party and need to bring a $20 gift. Your daughter's soccer fees may cost you $200 for the year while the school may be planning a trip in June to the aquarium which is another $15 out of pocket.

With the above three tips, sticking to a budget each month can be a little easier. However, you need to think about your individual spending goals and needs. It can be hard learning to save, not spend, when you have always been a spender. Start small and work your way up. Budgeting takes time and perseverance but you can do it if you are realistic in your goals.

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