The previous steps have actually given you your budget. Your budget should have monthly and annual goals, where the monthly gives you the means to make small steps towards the overall annual goal. Like saving a certain amount of money for that big vacation or weekly food savings for using towards preparedness items you wish to accumulate. Now is the time to Stick To It! Any budget is only as good as it is accurate and your ability to follow it. It’s like a diet; you have to start with more than just good intentions in order to see it through to your goal.
To succeed you need to have a positive attitude with defined realistic goals. You want to get out of debt soonest. You want to build that house in the country in 5 years. You want to travel to Europe as soon as you retire. You want more monies for your child’s college fund. Whatever your goals are they will be your motivation, so the more realistic, the better.
This is where that Savings Jar or can comes in handy. If you put your savings in there and then every month or so count it and put in savings – you can visualize almost daily that you are accomplishing your goal and that in itself is a very powerful motivator. You not only feel your accomplishment, you can see it!
Several things led to my getting in debt and I am willing to bet that everyone one of us has had these issues more than once in our lifetimes, in at least a small way.
Easy Access to Credit is the pits and we are bombarded via advertising and marketing to get this credit card or take out this loan to get this much deserved “thing”. Just for one day pay attention to the commercials, magazine, newspaper, billboard, radio and TV ads. Or what about all that “junk” mail in your mailbox for low interest loans and credit cards or purchase plans for some expensive product? My trick was to lower my credit card limit and add an “emergency line of credit” that required a phone call from me to instigate and then put my credit card in a safe deposit box at the bank where I only pulled it out when I had to travel for work or pleasure. Since most of the major general credit cards are accepted at almost all types of establishments, I also got rid of all my gas and department store credit cards.
Another thing that threw me for a financial loop was that the Information Technology Revolution hit me from businesses to my wallet like a runaway freight train. IE: I had direct deposit and ATM cards; I lost control as I could not actually see the cash going out the door. I did not have to plan for when the bank was open for business to cash or deposit the pay check. I could do that online or from an ATM, 24/7, 365 days a year. This was very bad for me. What I did to counter this was to give myself a “weekly cash allowance” and I left my ATM card at home instead of in my purse. This way I was more or less made to use only cash for an entire 7 days at a time and not the plastic. Plus it was easier to set and keep to a specified targeted amount for each week of “miscellaneous” spur of the moment expenses.
Temptation was also a hurdle, especially when I was younger because I always had some friend come along at the last minute and suggest a spontaneous fun trip to here or there, from a backpack trek through Canada to the grand opening of some play or restaurant, to a new ski resort for a weekend getaway. So keeping my credit card at the bank and my ATM card at home helped me to reduce these impromptu spending sprees. Lucky for me I was never tempted by the latest fashion or fad and didn’t have that problem to deal with. Believe me the temptations I had were bad enough!
One friend kept a separate little Passport type mini wallet in her purse that held her credit card and an index card. The index card had the uppermost figure she could pay off when the bill arrived and every time she used the credit card she wrote the date, item and amount on the index card. This “chore” became a habit and gave her an immediate visual of what she was spending her financial future on. She quickly realized that that pair of shoes or dinner out with friends was something she was going to be paying for, for a very long time, if she couldn’t pay the entire credit card bill at the end of the month. She also found she started to have spare cash which allowed her to achieve her big goal of going to the Louvre in France one summer.
Another temptation of mine was spending to feel good. When I first became a single parent I was not in a very good state of mind and comfort became my motto, for me and my children. Buying myself or the kids what we wanted made me feel good - until the bills came in. So I started to take a few dollars out of each paycheck and set it aside. Then I used that money for fun stuff for me and my children. Bottom line is to recognize when you do this and find some little trick that will assist you to not stumble and fall to this temptation, otherwise you may spend the next two years trying to pay it off with 20% interest.
Psychological Button Pushing is another hole I fell into on more than one occasion. This is where advertising and marketing pushes some subconscious emotion that has us feeling we NEED that shirt, house, car, vacation, kitchen gadget or whatever in order to be happy or survive. So we buy it. Then we not only pay and pay on the thing but we eventually find out that we have only worn it once or used it once or half the rooms in the house are utilized only a few times every year or so, or only two or three of those options on the vehicle are ever used or (ugh) we gain too much weight. Even politicians are very fond of this “tool” to get you to vote for them or their cause. Unfortunately there is no easy cure-all for this problem, except becoming aware it is there and in use in almost all aspects of our lives and to keep a proactive “eye” out for its use so you can walk away from it.
No matter how you look at it, a good budget that you can stick to is a NEED for survival in today’s day and age. Dreams stay dreams and never become reality or we always fall short of goals or expectations. We cannot begin to be emotionally or physically healthy and happy if we do not utilize a good budget successfully.
Now is the time to take the tips here and get going on your own budget so you too can lead a happy, healthy and fun life for you and yours.
A dream is just a dream unless you commit to making it reality.
From a 50 Something, soon to be rural homesteading Prepper