Believe it or not, budgeting is a skill like anything else. No one wakes up one day and is just fantastic at budgeting. Good budgeters worked at it and built their budgeting skills by practicing good habits. Here are eight habits of successful budgeters.
1. They Know What Their Money is For
A budget is a plan. By planning ahead, there’s no question about how the money is to be used. If their money is already assigned to something, they are less likely to try and use it for something that wasn’t planned.
2. They Know Where Their Money is Going
To make sure they stick to their plan, successful budgeters track their money. They make it a habit of sitting down and make sure they are on plan.
It may be something they spend two minutes every day or 20 minutes once a week.
Either way, they don’t wait until the end of the month and wonder what happened. Successful budgeters know as the month goes on where their money is going. They know if they are on track with their budgeting plan for the month.
3. They Build a Flexible Budget
One of the biggest ways people fail when budgeting is they don’t leave room for life to pop in and throw a curveball. The most successful budgeters have some flexibility in their budgets.
It might be in the form of:
- setting aside money for an emergency fund
- a buffer
- just budgeting more for a category then they think they will spend.
Either way when life happens and something comes up, they have the money to cover it without blowing their budget.
4. They Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Having a buffer on top of an emergency fund, ensures they don’t have to sweat the small stuff. Adding to the buffer each month means it grows and can cover a variety of unexpected expenses that may not be emergencies.
It could be they overslept and needed to buy coffee out. Or they got a parking ticket. Or a friend is unexpectedly in town, and they want to hang out.
Successful budgeters don’t have to sweat the small stuff because they’ve built that security into their budget.
They build a budget that allows the to still have fun.
5. They Conduct Regular Reality Checks
Personal finance is personal, and frankly, your financial goals change throughout your life. Successful budgeters regularly take stock of their goals and how their goals impact their budget.
Say they reached their goal for an emergency fund. Then they determine where is the money they were budgeting for an emergency fund going to go next.
Or maybe they find they are regularly over budget in one area. They adjust and find money from somewhere else to cover that cost.
6. They Shop Around
Just because a budget is successful doesn’t mean it can’t be improved to have more money for the things you value. Successful budgeters don’t shy away from making hard cuts to their budget by shopping around for services and providers.
7. They Prioritize Quality
Successful budgeters know that buying the cheapest option will often result in an unexpected expense when it breaks and needs replacing. They know there is a difference between buying cheap, buying quality, and buying luxury.
If it’s an item they only need to use a couple of times, cheap can work, but often they know it’s best to prioritize quality.
8. They Stick to the Budgeting Method that Works for them
There are lots of different budgeting methods and tools out there, finding the one that works for you can be half the battle.
and the list goes on.
For successful budgeters, once they know what works for them they stick to it and aren’t constantly looking for the next best budgeting fad.
Take Action: Remember budgeting is a skill and it takes time to develop. If you’ve never used a budget before you can start by working through a simple budgeting worksheet. This will help you to think about how you would like to categorize your spending. Or if you’re starting a budget to get out of debt try this to pay of debt the fastest.
Start by trying to implement one good budgeting habit at a time. You’ll be well on your way to a successful budget. Always keep in mind that personal finance is personal, and just because someone is budgeting one way successfully doesn’t mean you have to budget that way to be successful.