This post is the first post in a three-part underwritten series of posts I’ll be writing on behalf of the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard.
Struggling to follow through with that budget you’ve set? Here are 5 tried and true tips, tricks, and tools to help you actually stick with your budget:
1. Create Motivational Goals
Want to have more momentum when it comes to saving more and spending less? Set some realistic but inspirational goals.
Goals give you purpose, passion, and drive. They make short-term sacrifices more worth it, because you know you have long-term benefits in mind.
Wishing you could pay cash for Christmas, pay down your credit card debt, save for a piece of furniture, or even pay off your mortgage faster? Sit down and look at your current budget. See if there are areas you could streamline or cut back in.
Do the math on how much you could save or put toward your debt if you were to cut back $10 or $30 or even $50 every week. Knowing that these cuts are going to propel you toward your end game more quickly will inspire you to follow through with them over the long haul.
2. Focus on the Bite-Sized Chunks
If you want to discourage yourself, look at your savings goal or debt left to pay off as a whole. It probably looks mammoth and insurmountable. And you’ll want to quit saving or paying down debt immediately because it feels so overwhelming.
This is why I’m a big fan of breaking your big goals down into small pieces. If you want to save up $500 to pay cash for Christmas this year, don’t think about the $500 amount as a whole. Cut it down into the amount you’d need to save each month (about $42) and then the amount you’d need to save each week (about $10.50).
When you look at the weekly amount, it feels much more doable. And you can start to get creative to come up with simple and outside-the-box ways to shave that $10.50/week off your current budget.
In addition, you’ll be much more apt to stick with your budget if you feel encouraged from the get-go and like pulling off your goal is actually a reality, not some far-fetched, pie-in-the-sky dream idea.
3. Pay With Cash or a Prepaid Card
You all well know that I’m a big advocate of using cash. The beauty of cash is that it gives you instant self-discipline: when the money’s gone, the money’s gone.
You can’t go over-budget when you only use cash. Well, I mean, you can, but you’ll be robbing another budget category to do so.
You also can’t spend more money than you actually have when you only use cash. It’s a very visual way to be able to track how much money you have to spend.
However, I know that cash is not always practical in every situation. It’s impossible to pay with cash online and some people find that it burns a big hole in their pocket — causing them to spend more money than they would if they swipe a card.
That’s why an alternative to cash you could consider would be using a prepaid card like the Walmart MoneyCard® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card, part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program. It works very similarly to cash in that you can’t overspend with it — once the money is gone off the card, you are done being able to swipe it (unless you refill it). So it gives you instant self-discipline, too.
Using a prepaid card is especially a great option if you’re wanting to stick with a specific budget in a specific budget category. For instance, if you set a budget for your Christmas gifts and you want to make sure that you don’t go over it, if you designate your budget amount as the amount on the card and you don’t use anything but the card for Christmas gift purchases, you’ll be guaranteed more likely to stick with your budget. Plus, you can use the card both online and offline.
4. Use a Money-Tracking App
Money-tracking apps and websites can not only help you set up your budget, but they can help you continue to stay on track with it. There are a variety of apps and sites out there — each with their pros and cons.
These apps and websites typically take you step-by-step through the process of creating your budget and will then give you real-time reports on how much you have to spend in each budget category. As you make purchases or deposits, you can update your budget in just a few seconds.
Used well and updated daily, it’s almost like a virtual cash envelope system — without having to mess with any cash or coins at all. Plus, the pie charts and information available at your fingertips will help you better know exactly what your current financial picture looks like and encourage you to continue to stay on track with your budget.
5. Get an Accountability Partner
I cannot stress the importance of having some built-in accountability when it comes to budgeting. You need people to help you stay the course, even when the going gets tough.
Accountability can be found in many different places. It could be monthly Budget Meetings with your spouse. It could be posting your financial goals on your refrigerator in graph form and updating your progress on saving or paying down debt as you gain momentum. It could be a goal app like Commit.
It could be reading books and blogs that inspire you to practice better money management. It could be joining an online group or online community of others who are seeking to get out of debt.
For best results, choose multiple accountability sources — some that are in-person and regularly check-in with you and some that are just motivational online or offline resources that serve as reminders to stick with your budget and keep going.
You don’t have to always feel like you’re falling off the Budget Bandwagon! Implement at least a few of these tips and tools and you are bound to experience much more budgeting success!
What helps YOU stick with your budget? Tell us in the comments!
This post is underwritten by the Visa Clear Prepaid Program. With the Visa Clear Prepaid program, there’s less stress in choosing and using a prepaid card. Cards meeting the Visa Clear Prepaid standards provide you with transparency and protection, resulting in more time to do the things you love.
With a card that meets the Visa Clear Prepaid standards, it means your day-to-day activities are covered by a clearly communicated fee plan, so you’ll know when you’ll pay a fee and when you won’t. Go to Visa.com to find the prepaid card that works for you.
And stay tuned for a 30-day Grocery Spending Challenge we’ll be running in partnership with the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard in the upcoming weeks to encourage you to stick with your budget, spend less, and save more!