Budgeting 101 in the New Year often starts with Big Plans – I want to teach you How to Stick to Your Budget This Year and save money with the Ibotta App! I have partnered with Ibotta on this post to help you learn How to Stick to Your Budget!
The new year always brings new resolutions for Budgeting! Everyone is looking to save money and there’s no better way than to create a Budget and take control of your money. The problem is we see so many Budgeting 101 articles floating around the internet, but most only talk about the steps to creating a budget. I want to give you 12 ways to Stick to Your Budget this year + some thoughts on how to make budgeting easier, and how to set realistic expectations for your budget.
How to make Budgeting Easier
Change the way you shop! Budgeting can be hard but if you think about it it’s not the process of creating a budget that’s hard it’s Sticking to it that’s hard ;)
I like to look for ways to make sticking to my budget easier – for me that means finding tools like the Ibotta App that allow me to shop at just about any store and earn money for buying items I was already planning on purchasing. It’s easy to use, there are no coupons to clip and I can find cash back offers on hundreds of items each week!
Tools like Ibotta make it easier to stick to my budget because I can use those rewards I’m earning for extra purchases for myself (Hello Free Starbucks Gift Cards) or I can save them to use towards extra expenses like Vacation Budgets or Christmas Gifts! That eases the stress in our budget a little by giving me some wiggle room and a little extra to go towards things that are important to me.
It’s easy to get started – Just Download the Ibotta App Here, log in, add your favorite offers to your account, and Submit your receipts after you make a purchase!
Set Realistic Expectations for your Budget
Don’t budget more than you earn! This one is so simple, but the truth is you need to be realistic about 2 things: what you earn and what you spend.
I see so many budgets fail because people make unrealistic budgets based on what they “Think” they spend, when in reality they are used to spending much more, or they over-estimate what they will earn in a month and they end up short at the end of the month.
For a budget to be successful you need to go back and take a realistic look at what you are spending and your actual income. Then look for ways to get creative in both earning money and how you save. Apps like Ibotta allow you to earn extra on things you are already purchasing, they also have hundreds of offers each week which means savings on all the items you are already purchasing.
12 Ways to Stick to Your Budget This Year
1. Be Detailed in your Expense Categories
When you’re in a rush it’s easy to make a budget that is too generic. The problem with simplicity in budgeting, especially in the beginning, is that you don’t get to see where your mistakes are. If you lump Food, Household Items like cleaning supplies and Paper Towels, and Toiletries all in one generic “Grocery” or “Walmart” Expense and you are constantly going over budget each month you won’t know where you are overspending.
The more specific categories you have, the more visibility you have into your budget and where you are spending or overspending each month. This allows you to adjust your shopping patterns, and also your budget to be more realistic.
2. Don’t Forget Your Long Term Expenses
Another easy mistake to make is to plan for your monthly expenses only, then when you have a semi-annual expense come up your struggling to make ends meet because your expenses one month may be higher than other months.
I’d recommend taking your semi-annual and annual expenses like Car Insurance or Homeowners Insurance and divide the annual cost by 12 (or 26 if you get paid every other week). Then set that amount aside each month in a set back account (a separate savings account) that way you have the money ready to go when you need it!
3. Use Cash instead of Credit
If overspending is something you struggle with then I’d encourage you to use Cash for things like Groceries, Household Items, Clothing and Gifts. Any area where it’s easy to overspend. Using cash forces you to think about the total of your purchases which helps you be more aware of what you are buying and the total cost of the items after tax, etc.
It sounds simple, but I promise you that you will think twice about how much you spend if you are using cash. I once had someone at a conference come up and ask me “But what happens if I get to the checkout and I don’t have enough to pay for my groceries?” that’s exactly the point. The goal is that when you use cash your brain automatically worries about making sure you have enough money to pay for what you are buying and it forces you to prioritize what you are buying and to stick to your budget.
4. Skip the Monthly Fees
If you’re trying to stick to your budget this year, then it’s time to ditch the services you don’t need. Go over your credit card statement with a fine tooth comb and look for recurring expenses. Things like Netflix, Hulu, Apple Music, Apps you once used, etc. All of those $5-$10 a month charges add up really fast and it’s easy to be paying for things you no longer use without realizing it. Cancel any services with monthly fees that you don’t absolutely need and you’ll quickly free up some wiggle room in your budget.
5. Start Menu Planning Backwards
When I first started menu planning I would plan my meals around what I wanted to eat, now I plan my meals around what I have and what’s on sale. By planning my menu around what I already have on hand, the items on sale at my grocery store and the Ibotta cash back offers that are available I am able to reduce my grocery budget and avoid over-buying and over-spending.
6. Use Gift Cards for Extra Expenses and Fun Money
A tight budget often means there’s not much room for fun money or extra expenses “just because”. I like to use the cash back I earn from Ibotta for buying things I need, like groceries or clothing, to buy things I want, like going out to eat or getting Starbucks once in a while. It’s a great compromise and it helps me feel like I’m still getting to treat myself without blowing my budget. It may sound simple, but in the long run that extra freedom helps me stick to the budget and goals I have created.
7. Scan in Your Receipts to Save Even More
It is no secret that I love couponing, meal planning and shopping all the sales! Those strategies all help reduce what I’m spending at the checkout, but scanning in my receipts for cash back in apps like Ibotta is the icing on the cake! It’s the EXTRA savings that I get just for purchasing specific offers each week. It’s so easy to use and I love that I can stack the Ibotta cash back offers with sales for double the savings!
8. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Like, Stop it!, Right Now! Seriously! In a world of social media the comparison game is BIG! Looking around at what others have, what they are buying, eating for dinner and more is only going to lead you to want to spend more. Stay focused on your goals and don’t let the comparison game get in your way!
9. Get Your Kids Involved
One of the hardest parts of budgeting with kids is helping them understand that you can’t always buy something just because you want it, and that money doesn’t grow on trees. I still remember my mom telling us when we were little to “Go Look in the Envelope” If there wasn’t cash to eat out then we didn’t go eat out, if there wasn’t any money in the clothing envelope we didn’t buy a new pair of jeans. Let your kids be involved in the process, teach them why you are using a budget and how to budget! You can even make it a game to see how much you can save, or how much can be left at the end of the week, then maybe you go and get a treat depending on what amount is left.
10. Remember Your Why
Your motivation for budgeting is so important in the success of your budget. Do you know why you want to save money, why having a budget is important to you. What’s your reasoning for starting in the first place? Write that down and put it somewhere visible. I remember saying over, and over, and over again when we were trying to pay off our house “I Can’t… BECAUSE we are trying to put extra towards our house this month”. What’s your “Because” What’s the Reason you are saying no to overspending… because in the end we aren’t really saying no, we are saying YES to something! So figure out what that is and Say Yes Daily, those little decisions add up and can make a big impact.
11. Set up Systems for Success
Every goal needs a plan (A Budget) And also a strategy to accomplish that plan. In budgeting, just like in most things in life the Plan is Key! Take time to set up systems for success. If you are using cash envelopes, set a time to go to the bank. Maybe it’s every other Friday after you get off work, or every Wednesday before Carline. Choose a time that works for you and write it on your calendar. If you are always tempted to run through Starbucks on the way to work in the mornings, buy some disposable cups or a thermos and make your own coffee at home. Figure out where your weak points are and plan for them. Having systems in place to avoid the temptations to overspend will help you be successful in the long run.
12. Don’t let Failure Set Your Back
No One is Perfect! Just because you go over budget in one category doesn’t mean you have to toss out your entire budget. You can start fresh tomorrow, make adjustments for the month, get back on track. Spend less in another area and adjust. You don’t have to give up just because you made one mistake and you don’t have to wait till next month to try again. Just do your best and keep moving forward! Remember progress over perfection, and eventually you will look back and see just how far you’ve come!