I hate budgeting. It is my dream to be able to live within our means intuitively with no need to count the dollars. However, that is not my reality, so I dutifully create a budget to ensure all bills are paid, we have clothes and food, and no one comes to repo the car. Here are some of the tips and tricks I have learned to make life bearable on a budget.
Tips for acing and sticking to the budget:
- Be sure to include not only monthly bills, but all yearly expenditures. This might be obvious to many, but when I first made a budget, I did not include once-a-year bills like car registrations or pet vaccinations. This ended up making some months really lean. It also gave me a false sense of our savings. Now, I take those yearly bills and divide by 12, so we save for them every month.
- Budget for as much as possible. I include clothes, birthdays, Christmas, vacations, car maintenance, etc. This helps me set limits that I will spend every year, such as $100 for new clothes. It also gives you a more realistic idea of how much you can save per year as you can see your total expenditures.
- Set specific limits on spending for birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. This helps keep my budget realistic and keeps me from spending crazy amounts on the kids (most of the time).
- Budget for entertainment and eating out monthly, when possible. Our current entertainment budget is $50 a month. This helps by making you all accountable for what you can afford. You can decide what activities are important that month. We love going to the movies. As such, we are aware of new releases and prioritize what we really want to see in the theater. It also gives you some breathing room for nights you are too tired to cook, or an emergency happens.
- Include fun money when you can. This has not always been possible when money has been tight. But I try to budget at least $20 a month free money for each of my immediate family members. We can use the money with personal discretion for anything we want that month. It can be ice cream, candy, a cute top calling our name, or a comic book (my husband edited this in). This gives us each some autonomy and teaches the kids about the value of money (and how fast it can go).
Here are my tricks for making a budget bearable and work. What do you include in your budget? What are some ways you can tweak your budget to add some fun?