(The following is a transcription from a video Linda and I recorded. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
All right. Today, we’re talking about 10 incredibly useful hacks to stick with your budgets. And, I’m really excited to share them with you.
We have really honed in on what it takes to have a budget that you can enjoy, that makes you feel good about life.
We’ve done it wrong so much that we’ve just learned how to do it right, and how to have fun in the process.
If you haven’t gotten Our Free Budgeting Worksheet, I’ve spent a lot of time making this thing and I think it’s awesome.
It’s a good first step to see how your income and expenses stack up. It’s just a good way to get started with your budget.
You can just pick that up by clicking here, and you’ll be on your way to starting your budget!
Now let’s get to these 10 amazing hacks to help you stick with your budget…
10. Make Savings Automatic
Bob: One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is they spend their money and then they try to save or give afterwards. You have to do it the opposite way, the things that are most important to you: giving money, savings, whatever those are, that needs to come first. If you don’t do it that way, if you don’t have some automatic thing in place, the reality is, we all know this.
Linda: It’s not going to happen.
Bob: We all know this, it’s probably not going to happen. You’re going to get to the end of the month, there’s not anything there. And so, that’s why making it automatic is incredibly important.
9. Reward Yourself
Bob: Or if you’re a Parks and Recreation fan, we could call it, treat yo self.
Linda: Treat yo self. This comes across though, as like, “I’m just going to treat myself all the time,” which is something I would do, but we’re not talking about that. Right?
Bob: Yeah. But the key in terms of sticking to your budget, you need rewards. You need incentives to stay the course. And so, yeah, when we were paying off our debt, this was a big part of that. Our budget was a big piece of us being able to pay off our debt. But in order to reach that goal, we had to have milestones. It was too big of a thing, it was too much, it was too long of a road for us to walk without some rewards. And so, we made sure to keep them in there and because we did, we were able to stick with it. Right?
Linda: Yeah. And I think this was especially key for me because he was watching the numbers of our debt go down, down, down. And he was really, really involved. But for me, I was more on the sidelines. And if I wouldn’t have had this incentive, it would have been really difficult for me to keep going. I think I would have just gotten discouraged and given up. So, I think this was extremely key for me since I was not as involved.
Bob: Yeah. Definitely.
8. Budget With Accountability
Bob: I’ve had the unique advantage of being able to try out and test out a whole bunch of different budgeting methods, budgeting softwares and tools and spreadsheets, and all this stuff over the years. I’ve been a financial blogger for almost 13 years, and I have reviewed almost everything out there, and I’ve tried out so much of the stuff. Because we’ve actually tried it ourselves.
The thing that I’ve come to realize is that most budgeting methods don’t actually hold you accountable. There’s this false sense of accountability. And so, the only tool that I’m aware of that ever actually hold you accountable are cash envelopes, if you do that and put cash in envelopes and do that type of budgeting.
Linda: Yeah. And that wasn’t going to work for us because we use plastic sometimes because we online shop or whatever.
Bob: Yeah. Then the other option is The Real Money Method. And this is kind of our hack to do that, to have a budgeting method that actually holds you accountable. So, we have an entire course teaching this method in which you’re welcome to check out if you’re interested. But the bottom line is that for most of us to stick with a budget, we need accountability. We need a budget that’ll hold us accountable. And so, if you’ve ever failed with budgeting, this might be the reason why. So, just find something that will hold you accountable.
7. Don’t Save Your Credit Card Info On Any Site Where You Shop
Bob: This is a good hack. This, yeah, because adding that friction, I think that would definitely, yeah. It just doesn’t seem like much, but having to spend the extra minute or two to go through with the purchase to type all that in, it just slows you down.
Linda: All right. So, I think you’ve told me about this before, where there’s something almost physical that happens in your body when you pay for something and you have to hand over cash.
Bob: Because it’s just real money and you get to feel it.
Linda: Yeah. And you’re like, “There’s my money and it’s leaving.”
Bob: It’s disappearing, yeah.
Linda: But when you write a check, you told me it’s less, but it’s still more of a process that you still feel like…
Bob: A little bit less real, yeah.
Linda: And then, less when you are swiping your credit card.
Linda: I think you told me this years ago, really before online shopping was as big as it is now. And I can only imagine how little you feel that when it’s like click, click, and it’s, “I bought it.”
Linda: It’s done.
Bob: I mean, that’s what Amazon has done. It’s like literally-
Linda: Oh, my gosh.
Bob: Add To Cart, boom. Done.
Linda: Well, and you can even hit Buy It Now. And it’s like click, you’re done.
Bob: Yeah. You’re right. It’s one click. So, it’s brilliant on their part. But the point is, is that adding that friction will overall reduce the spending that we make. So yeah, it’s an important move to make.
6. Only Use Gift Cards To Shop On Amazon
Linda: Number six ties right into what we were just talking about. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon.
Bob: This is an interesting idea that the author had to basically go to the grocery store, buy an Amazon gift card for $100 or whatever, and then load that on your account and then make purchases with that. And so, this kind of takes that friction to a whole new level in that you need to go to the store and buy an Amazon gift card. But at the same time, it kind of undoes the previous thing we were just talking about because the gift card is loaded in there and it’s still pretty easy to buy. So, it’s kind of like, yeah, I don’t know. It might work for some people, but something to consider.
5. Never Buy Anything That You Put In An Online Shopping Cart Until The Next Day
Linda: Number five, never buy anything that you put in an online shopping cart until the next day.
Bob: This is a good idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’m struggling with some annoying problem around the house and I need to go buy this. I’m like, “I need to go buy this thing to fix it,” whatever it is. And I’ll put the thing in a cart and just because I forget to go buy it and I’ll come back a couple of days later, I’m like, I actually solved that problem already. Or it’s not even that big of a problem. It seemed like a big problem in the moment, but it really isn’t that big of a problem. And it is amazing. We’ve all heard this, just sit on a purchase for a little bit and then, half the time, you don’t want to make it later on. But I like this idea of throwing it in the cart. That way, you won’t forget about it. And you can check in a couple of days.
Bob: And see.
Linda: Well, and I think this is really key for stuff that you just want.
Bob: Yeah, especially.
Linda: Because I mean, so many times, you’re just trying to numb yourself. You’re like, “I’ve had a bad day, so I’m going to go online shop.” And I know that’s what I do. So, just sitting on that, having it in your cart kind of gives you a little bit of satisfaction, and then being able to sit on it for a little bit, I think really helps. And then you can make a decision when you’re a little bit more clearheaded.
4. Read The One-Star Reviews For The Products Before You Buy Them
Linda: Okay, I really like this one. Read the one-star reviews for the products before you buy them.
Bob: This is a great idea. Because it definitely gives you a whole different perspective on the product.
Bob: And yeah, and you just might not be as interested when you see all the negative things about it.
Bob: Now, I do this for really, most products I buy, because I want to see what people are saying the bad is.
Linda: Yeah. You don’t want to buy a product that’s going to be terrible and it’s not what you want.
Bob: Well, yeah, if you have 20 people in a row saying that whatever, “it stopped working after three months,” it’s like, all right, there might be a trend here. So, just from a smart shopping perspective, I think this is good, but it also will help you. Yeah, I think it will deter you from buying more things if you’re looking at the bad.
3. Don’t Go To The Grocery Store Hungry
Linda: All right. Number three, this one is classic.
Bob: But it works. It works.
Linda: Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.
Bob: Yeah. It just really, really works. It’s such a big difference when you, yeah, when you’re…
Linda: When you’re full and you’re not hungry.
Linda: You should go to the grocery store only full. It’s where you’re just like, “None of this sounds good.”
Bob: No, this is what you should do. You should go to the grocery store after a Thanksgiving meal, when you’re so bloated and just be like, “I don’t want any food.” You’re tired. That’s when you go to the grocery store.
Linda: You won’t be buying much. But then, you’ll regret it later because you’ll be like, “Why is there no food in the house?”
2. Only Make Major Purchases In The Morning
Linda: Number two, only make major purchases in the morning.
Bob: Yeah. I think this is really interesting. I remember, I think Tim Ferriss was talking about decision fatigue, and this idea that we only have a limited number of decisions that we can make any given day. And after that point, we’re just tapped out and we can’t actually make any more decisions.
Bob: And so, what happens is, so many of us in busy lives, we get to the end of the day and we’re just worn down and we don’t have good decision-making abilities. Whereas at the beginning of the day, we’re fresher. And we have, if you think of it in terms of a bank account, we have a lot more decisions sitting there that we can tap into. So, making these purchases, especially big purchases in the morning when we’re stronger, it’s just a better approach.
1. Choose A Major Category Each Month To Attack
Linda: Okay. Number one, choose a major category each month to attack.
Bob: I think this is a good idea. I think too many people try to solve 10 problems at once. And I think focusing your energy on just one, find one category in your budget that you’re struggling with, even though you might be struggling with four or five of them, find one, focus your energy on solving that particular one, whatever that is. If it’s groceries, if it’s household goods, whatever that category is, try to solve that one.
Linda: Yeah. And we’ve talked about this before, where you should not base your budget around what your personal goals are. You need to base it around where you actually are in your life. So, if you were going to Starbucks every day and you want to change that, do that one month. And then, once you’ve got that down, work on the next habit. Don’t try and do it all at once, because you’re going to blow your budget. It’s not going to work. And you’re just going to be mad.
What Budgeting Tip Would You Add To This List?
Yeah. So, those are our top 10. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
Don’t Forget The Free Budgeting Worksheet!
Like I mentioned at the beginning, if you are new to budgeting, or if you just need a little help, be sure to get our free budgeting worksheet.
We have another video about how you’re budgeting WRONG if you do any of these things so check that out here:
Source article that inspired this video/article: 13 incredibly useful budgeting hacks to help you stick to your budget.