Ideas to help you manage a budget and stick to it

You are a good budgeter. Think about everything that stands in your way of being able to manage your budget: your job, trying to manage your commitments, your car that broke down, that leaking pipe that cost you $2,500, trying to stay sane.. the list goes on. It’s no wonder why sticking to a budget falls to the bottom of the To-Do List.

Budgets are often abandoned because they aren’t created with real life in mind. And while there is no one-size-fits-all method for managing a budget that sticks, there are ways to keep you on track. Here are a few of the most common budgeting pitfalls and how to manage a budget that sticks (and helps you reach your financial goals!).

How to make your budget stick

If you’ve created a monthly budget you’ve already done the hard work! Now it’s about making sure you stick to it. Some of the most common budgeting pitfalls include:

  • Financial disruptions that wreak havoc on your already tight finances
  • Your budget isn’t created to help you pay off debt or save money faster
  • Your budget feels limiting and restrictive, instead of allowing you to live your life
  • You’re trying to maintain a budget, but it keeps falling off the radar

These things happen. It’s why so many people struggle to manage a budget over a long period of time. Below are ideas that can help you better overcome these pitfalls and manage your budget.

Budget for your irregular expenses

One of the biggest reasons why budgets fall apart? Something happens that it didn’t count for, and you’re not able to adjust it without losing money.

While you can’t plan for every expense that comes up (that’s what an emergency fund is for!), you can plan for irregular, but expected expenses.

Consider saving for a portion of irregular expenses like quarterly taxes, car repair bills, yearly dues, or annual fees each month. Instead of grinding your teeth and charging a major expense on a credit card when that $99 annual subscription renews, you’ll be able to pay most of it off when the bill comes around—and you won’t derail your expenses this month.

Stick to your budget by setting goals

When set up a certain way, budgets can feel restrictive.

Are you feeling like you’re making compromises between your everyday expenses and what you really want to achieve? A lot of budgets can feel restrictive because you’ve set limits on your money that don’t support your overall financial goals. When managing your budget, make sure you’re including the things you want.

Think about your most important financial goals, and make sure your budget allows you to make progress on them. If you want to pay off debt faster, but can’t seem to find the money for it, revisit your budget to see if you can readjust to pay more toward your debt.

Read More: How to Set Up Financial Goals for Success

Remember that it’s okay if you need to adjust your budget

There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your budget categories when you need to. Critics will caution that you should only adjust your budget if you have a major financial change. This discourages you from flubbing the numbers if you overspend. But more important than the possibility of overspending, is that your budget is set up to help you manage your money effectively.

How do you know if you’re budgeting for the right things? Many personal finance experts recommend the 50/30/20 method that works for a lot of budgeters. Here’s how to break up your income according to the 50/30/20 rule:

  • 50% goes toward your needs
  • 30% toward your wants
  • 20% to your savings

If your budget categories don’t fit nicely into these percentages, that is 100% okay, as long as your budget works for you. If your situation changes or you realize your budget isn’t helping you, just change it.

Read More: How Much Should You Save Monthly

Budget for fun

Sometimes creating a monthly budget feels like a rude awakening. You realize how much money you’re spending on things you don’t need, so you pledge to cut all of your extra spending. Perhaps you commit to eliminating expenses for a month or two, before realizing you’re exceptionally unhappy. It’s because your budget doesn’t let you spend any money.

As long as you’re not in a super tight financial situation and living within your financial means, don’t be afraid to budget specifically to spend money on the things you enjoy.

This isn’t an allowance to splurge or overspend. You’re awarding yourself the ability to still enjoy life while managing your money responsibly.

Schedule time to plan your budget each month (and week)

A lot of budgets can get abandoned because it’s simply too hard to find the time to manage them. Make it a goal to spend time at least once a month to visit your last, and plan for the next. Think of managing your budget as part of your regular routine. Yes, it’s another task on the To-Do list, but it’s one of the most important.