Budgeting doesn’t have to be basic. You don’t have to settle for spreadsheets and unrealistic rules to find something that works for you. The more you think outside the box with your budgeting, the more likely you are to follow through with your financial goals. Here are 5 tips to get the creative budgeting juices flowing and make your next financial plan a little more fun.
1. Make Budgeting More Rewarding
Who wants to work without reward? Sure, the financial rewards of making and sticking to a budget speak for themselves. But what’s the fun in that? Give yourself a little extra incentive for sticking to your monthly budget. If you find yourself with extra money in your budget at the end of the month, reward yourself for your financial efforts. Make a specific plan to spend your excess cash, giving you something to look forward to, and incentive to stick to your budget and spend less.
2. Budget for Things You Want
Budgeting doesn’t have to be just about making sure you have enough for your needs. It can be about saving for your wants too. If you have trouble sticking with your budget because saving for utility expenses and groceries just isn’t all that fun, try adding a few things you actually want. When you can see your savings add up for things like vacations, video games, evenings out, etc., the rest of your budget tends to fall into place and saving for everything else becomes a little easier too.
3. Budget Backwards
Set some big picture financial goals, then work backwards. Ask yourself when you want to pay off your debt. When do you want to be able to save enough money for that vacation? When do you want to retire? After you’ve answered these questions, determine how much money you need to save every month to make it happen. Do the same for each of your budget categories, so instead of restricting your spending and seeing your budgeted money constantly go down, you’re focusing on your end goals and watching your savings rise.
4. Put a Little Buffer in Your Budget
Failing isn’t fun. And when it comes to your budget, failure can significantly impact your finances. When you squeeze every last penny of your income into a tight spending plan, you’re setting yourself up to fail. It also discourages you from sticking to your budget long-term. Instead, give your budget some room to breathe. Set aside some money in a buffer category to cover deficits when they happen. Pay attention to your spending habits and adjust your budget over time if you keep coming up short.
5. Make Savings Automatic
If you can keep track of your expenses and see how much money you have remaining for each budgeted category without having to do any work, you’ve won. Research online budgeting apps or check to see if your personal savings account comes with automatic budget tracking tools. You may also be able set up automatic transfers of money from your checking account to your savings account to increase your ability to save and stick to your budget.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring. At the very least, you can do some things to make it more fun. Start with these five ideas and think of some of your own creative ways to keep to your budget and follow through with your financial plans.