*This post may contain affiliate links.
It seems like the biggest issue most people have when it comes to managing their money is figuring out how to stick to a budget.
And rightfully so. It's heavily dependent upon your behavior and when you’ve gone your whole adult life without one there are sure to be some mental barriers.
So let’s dive into how to make friends with your spending plan!
Identify your spending triggers
Yep, this one is a biggie. And I mean BIG.
Money management is about 20% knowledge and 80% behavior. Our spending is deeply intertwined with our thoughts and feelings, so if you try to take mindset out of the equation you’re going to be left with a mess.
Your spending triggers could be:
- That crappy job you hate
- Being stuck in traffic
- Feeling bored
- A toxic relationship
- Literally anything!
When you know your triggers you know what to be mindful of going forward. If you tend to go buy a combo meal when you’re feeling stressed, then you’ll need to develop a new routine to dive into when the trigger presents itself.
In order to stick to your budget, you must be diligent about actually putting in the work to overcome your triggers.
You MUST take daily, consistent action to form new routines and habits.
And I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s not going to be like “Oh I overcame this spending trigger now I’m good.” No.
Proper money management is a lifestyle. That means it takes daily mindfulness to keep those spending triggers in check.
Once you initially get them under control obviously it does become a lot easier to manage them, but just like with anything in life you cannot get too comfortable.
How to identify your triggers
It’s always best to start with taking a trip down memory lane.
Go back to your childhood and analyze your upbringing because our childhood experiences shape who we are as adults.
And oftentimes we don’t even realize the impact that our upbringing has had on us, especially when it comes to how we manage our money.
The things we say about money, how we view money, how we spend our money, how we save our money, our whole relationship with money originated from our experiences in life.
Money posts to check out next!
DON’T Copy + Paste Someone Else's
As a budgeting beginner it’s easy to want to copy and paste what you see a lot of other people doing who appear to be successful at sticking to their budgets.
I mean, if it works for them it should work for you right?!
Not really. Your budget should be based on your own financial situation because you have different factors that need to be involved in your budget creation process.
These factors are going to include:
- Your behavior. Not everyone has the same mentality.
- Your expenses. This is the biggie. Your expenses are not going to be the same as the next person's.
- Your income. Everyone is working with a different income.
- Your goals. What you’re trying to achieve may not be the main focus for other people.
Since working with clients, I find that many are guessing when it comes to putting their budgets together.
They know when their bills are due and how much most are, but when it comes to the rest of their spending they:
- Don’t know what else they spend money on regularly. You know the “I don’t know where my money is going” line.
- Choose a random amount to allocate. An amount that isn’t really based on anything, it’s just something that looks good on paper.
What Happens When You Make This Mistake
Some of you may feel that knowing when your bills are due and how much they are is budgeting.
And you are in a way, but is it a complete budget? No.
And what’s going to happen is that your bills will be paid but the money you bring in outside of what you use for your bills is hitting the ground running.
Then you're left wondering how you have a budget you can't stick to.
You don’t truly know how much you have and what you can do with your current income until you sit down and work your numbers.
Create a Plan to Stick to Your Budget
Establish a strategy to hold yourself accountable to your spending plan, aka your budget.
Those of you who have tried to budget and failed know that creating the budget is the easy part, the grueling part is sticking to it!
Because it requires a mindset shift and discipline. Especially if you’re shifting from being a spender because you’re now limiting yourself to a specific amount of money whereas before you had no limit.
I find that most people underestimate the importance of an action plan because there’s this assumption that your money is now going to automatically know what to do.
And this was an assumption I had as well.
I thought, “Ok great, I have a budget now I just sit back and wait on the magic.”
As you can imagine, no magic happened. I was always over budget and my spending habits did not automatically change as I thought.
When you have a clear plan of action and coming within budget, then you’ll start noticing that your confidence increases because your money is doing what you told it to do.
You’re now in control so it isn’t running into the hands of other people. It’s going to things that benefit you which proves to you that you do have what it takes to shift your finances.
And since your money is now going where it needs to go, this leads to your goals being achieved which fuels your motivation to set even bigger goals.
You’ll find yourself setting those goals you were once too afraid to set.
Breaking Goal into Milestones
Taking action doesn’t feel good when it comes to improving your finances or at least in the beginning.
Buying clothes feels good.
Ordering sushi feels good, but putting yourself on a budget? It’s not appealing so you have to, in a way, trick yourself into putting in the work.
So to do ease yourself into this, break up your goal into daily, weekly, and/or monthly milestones.
Oftentimes our goals as a whole can be intimidating, causing us to feel so overwhelmed that we don’t even start taking action because it’s #toomuch.
Breaking it up into bite-sized chunks tricks you into working towards the end goal by camouflaging it behind simple milestones.
Then, as you hit each milestone you build up the confidence needed to continue moving forward and it feels like you’re making progress a lot faster.
Figuring out how to stick to a budget isn't easy, but it's absolutely doable. It's important to trust that you have the ability to manage your money in a way that aligns with your values and wants. Because you do!