How to Stick to Your Budget

A budget should be a reflection of your life.

Think of it as a cozy, well-maintained house for your money—the kind with paint colors Joanna Gaines would love and furniture made by the hottest new designers. In this case, you’re the designer, so you decide where your money goes each month.

That means if you want to shop a big sale or go out to eat more often, no problem. Just arrange it in your budget first. And if you want to save for a new couch or put money toward debt, that’s fantastic! Dedicate some space for it.

The trouble comes when you start overspending in your restaurant budget then “sneak” money from your sofa savings to pay for your fast food cravings. Remember, your budget isn’t open concept; it has separate rooms for a reason.

Let’s discuss some simple housekeeping tips for a beautifully balanced budget.

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How to Budget for Large Expenses with EveryDollar

EveryDollar is budgeting made easy. You guys know this.

But did you know that creating funds in EveryDollar might just be the key to unlocking your financial future?

Here’s why: A budget tells your money what to do each month. A fund tells your money what to do each month and then some. When you set up a fund, you’re saying the category of your choosing is something you want to stash cash into over a period of time.

An EveryDollar fund is financial forward thinking at its finest.

And today we’re going to learn all about this incredible budgeting tool—what funds do, why you might want to give funds a try, and how to easily build funds right into your budget.

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What to Expect in Your First 3 Months of Budgeting

Most of us have an iconic and memorable first-time-on-a-bike story. Maybe your story starts with a slow-motion wreck in the yard but ends with a smooth sail down a hill, wind in your hair.

Think about what happened between the beginning and ending of that story, though. Somewhere along the way as you were learning to ride, you doubted your abilities because you fell or crashed or just didn’t get it. But you kept at it and eventually learned to ride.

And that’s how it goes with budgeting. As with any new skill, budgeting requires a little bit of practice and patience to get right. And we know you can do it! For most users, it takes about three months to go from novice to know-it-all.

If you’re brand-new to budgeting, we’re here to help! Follow our quick and easy guide below:

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How to Budget for Unexpected Expenses

Every morning, budgeting friends, we all wake up, lace our shoes, and hit the ground running. Money goals? We’re gettin’ after ’em. Temptations? Out of our way.

But then . . .

Sometimes we hit the wall of unexpected expenses. And it feels like one step forward and 22 steps backward with money plans out the window. After all, we can’t anticipate what we don’t see coming.

Or can we?

The best—and maybe only—way to stick to a budget when unexpected expenses pop up is to expect them. Don’t wait for sneaky bills or last-minute obligations to find you. Be on the lookout! Make room for unexpected expenses, and instead of hitting a wall, you can hop a hurdle. Don’t worry. We’ll show you how.

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The Monthly Budget Date: How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse

Ever experience one of those moments in marriage that really catches you off guard? The moment when the person you’re most comfortable with sets your heart aflutter even though you know them so well. And out of nowhere you get sweaty palms and your words don’t come out right.

Oh yes, you’ve got butterflies—the budgeting butterflies. Do you ever get those? There’s a nervous excitement that happens when talking about money with your spouse. And hey, that’s normal.

Still, we think it’s worth pushing through the awkwardness. A recent study found that couples are happier when they discuss money on a regular basis.¹

One of the best ways to make budgeting a normal topic of conversation in your home is to incorporate it into a date night. We’ll show you how!

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4 Steps to Save More Than Ever Before

Let’s take a minute to think about the world we live in. 

We can order coffee from our phones without ever waiting in a line. We can stream just about any television show or movie we want without watching the commercials. And we can buy everything from makeup to furniture and have it delivered to our front door in less than two days. 

We’ve gotten pretty great at getting what we want, when we want it. 

You can do the same thing with your money, if you plan for your purchases.

Say you want to buy something big, like a new-to-you car. Or you want to take a sweet summer vacation with your friends. You can simplify saving up for those expenses—without ever breaking out a credit card.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. Here are the four steps you need to take to become a seasoned saver.

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10 Budgeters Share Grocery Savings Tips That Really Work

You round the final corner of the dairy aisle and roll your overflowing grocery cart toward the checkout line. As the cashier scans each item, you keep an eagle eye on the register and watch the total climb. The last item glides across the scanner, and boom—you stayed on budget!

It’s a great feeling!

But you start to wonder if you can find ways to spend even less on groceries than you already are—especially since you need to start saving for your fun summer plans! Even if you could shave $50 out of your food budget each month, you could easily save up an extra $200 to put toward that family vacation to the beach or a new spring wardrobe.

That’s why we asked our EveryDollar budgeters to share their best money-saving tips for grocery shopping. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Plan for leftovers.

Menu plan and shop only for what's on the list. When making the menu, plan for leftovers at lunch. I repurpose the leftovers into a new meal (grill chicken fajitas then make chicken tortilla soup with leftover chicken).

— Heather S.

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The Surprising Thing That Can Make or Break Your Budget

You’ve checked your numbers, got your budget set, and you’re pumped up because you are ready for the new month. There’s just one more thing to do, and it’s the key to making or breaking your budget—tracking your expenses.

Expense tracking compares the purchases you make against the amounts you planned to spend. It lets you know if your spending is on pace for the month, and if you have the money left in your budget to do things like go out to eat with friends or shop your favorite store’s sale.

Tracking can be done quickly and easily. Here’s how.

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Make Your Life Easier With These 4 EveryDollar Features

You can use EveryDollar to create a budget, manage money, and track spending from virtually anywhere, whether you’re using a computer, iPhone or Android. Plus, it automatically syncs across all your devices. You will always be up to date on your money!

It’s also helped thousands of people save money, eliminate debt, and hit their financial goals. But wait, there’s more! Check out these four useful EveryDollar features you can use to make budgeting easy and fun—and still win with money!

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9 Things to Add to Your November Budget

Traveling. Eating. Shopping. More eating. Let the holidays begin!

November kicks off the season of celebration—and spending! Plan how you’ll spend your money now, so by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you only need to worry about whether or not to eat a second helping of pumpkin pie. We’re here to help you prepare! Check out these nine budget items to be ready for in November.

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3 Ways to Make Tracking Your Expenses a Habit

Tracking expenses is one of the best budget habits you can form.

It keeps you connected with your plan and helps you stay on track with your money goals. You know what you bought, when you bought it, how much you paid, and how much you have left to spend. And since tracking only takes a few minutes, it can be done in no time!

Here are three ways to stay focused on tracking expenses until it becomes second nature.

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6 Budgeting Habits You Can Put Into Practice Today

It’s natural to think that boosting your income is how you win with money. After all, a larger paycheck never hurts. But you don’t necessarily need to earn more to start winning. In fact, learning good budget habits will make you feel like you got a raise. Once you know how to handle your money, there’s no stopping you!

Here are six money habits of successful budgeters and how you can put them into practice.

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How to Save $1,000 by Christmas

We’re a little more than four months away from the thick of the holiday shopping season—and we want you to enjoy spending money at Christmas, not stress over it! The good news is, if you start saving now, you can have $1,000 ready to spend in December.

It doesn’t take a Christmas miracle to save $1,000 for gifts and decorations—it just takes a plan. When you set a goal and come up with a strategy to get there, you’ll see just how easy it is to save. Here are four steps to putting $1,000 away before there’s even a chill in the air.

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January Challenge: 4 Ways to Get Organized With Your Money

Another year means another exciting set of goals. Start things off right with a more organized money plan to meet those goals! The beauty of organizing your money is that, once it’s done, you’ll feel like you’ve cut out a lot of everyday stress and clutter—and simplified your money life.

Our January Challenge is all about taking control of your cash and putting every dollar where it needs to go. Here are four steps to making it happen.

1. Get rid of the paper pile. Maybe you have a stack of receipts and bills you’ve been meaning to file since forever.

Be intentional about scheduling a few minutes at the end of each day in the coming year to record your transactions so they don’t pile up. Or make it even easier on yourself by switching to EveryDollar Plus. With Plus, we’ll enter your transactions for you so you don’t even need to keep your receipts! Just drag, drop, and you’re done.

2. Plan out your meals. Pick a specific time—early in the week, every week—to make your meal plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Knowing what you’ll eat ahead of time prevents those “what’s for dinner” moments that end in the drive-thru line. Again.

If you’re pressed for time when it comes to planning, try an online meal-planning service like eMeals. Each week they send new recipes, including entrées and side dishes, along with a complete shopping list organized by grocery store section. You can even sign up for a free 14-day trial. Check it out!

3. Make bill paying quick. Set up as many bills for autodraft as you can. That way, you’re paying everything you owe easily and on time. For the companies that don’t offer autodraft, pay your bills as soon as you get them. Stick a stamp on them that night instead of letting them get lost in the junk drawer. The sooner you pay, the sooner you can think about something else!

4. Schedule a monthly money date. If you’re married, it’s best to get on the same with your money and your goals. Schedule a time each month to sit down and review what you’re doing. You’re a team. This is a great time to set (or reset) your goals, check your progress, and celebrate wins.

Organizing your money takes a little effort, but reaps big rewards. That’s because you’ll finally know exactly how much you can spend, save and give to reach your goals. No more guessing or wishing. You’ll just know.

Make your EveryDollar budget today and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get more tips for being organized with your money.

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2 Tips to Make Your Budget, And Make it Work

It’s as easy as one-two. You don’t even need a three.

Getting control of your money is just two steps away. And when you take those two steps, the pieces fall into place—you can get out of debt, save for that dream beach getaway, or build up money in your I’m-so-ready-to-get-granite-countertops-in-my-kitchen fund. All of that can happen with these two steps. Let’s get to them!

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What To Do With Leftover Money In Your Budget

Every now and then something magical happens. No, we’re not talking about finding a $1,000 bill on the ground. Although, that would be all kinds of magical.

We’re talking about the pleasant surprise of finding leftover money in your budget! Maybe gas prices went down or the weather was incredible and you didn’t have to run your air conditioner as much. Or maybe you simply landed a flash sale on your vacation must-reads.

Whatever the awesome reason, now you have more cash to spend, save or give in your budget. After you finish your happy dance, make sure you put that money to good use right away. Wondering where should it go? Here are some great ideas:

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7 Common Budgeting Mistakes and How to Fix Them for Good

Almost 60% of adults give themselves a grade of A or B on their knowledge of personal finance, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. You may know your money pretty well, but mistakes still happen from time to time.

We’re human, after all.

Instead of worrying when you have a budgeting mishap, learn from it! Here are seven common slipups we’ve all made and how to avoid them—for good.

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How to Create a Budget

Budgeting is like cilantro. You either love it or you don’t. And while we’re hard-pressed to understand why anyone wouldn’t crave those fresh herbs on everything from beef tacos to Indian butter chicken to BBQ pizza, we do understand a distaste for the monthly budget.

Let’s face it: Budgeting gets a pretty bad rap. You’ve probably heard that it’s time-consuming, boring and even restrictive. The truth is, a budget will change your life—perhaps even more than cilantro will! And creating your budget doesn’t require too much brain power or too many minutes off the clock.

What Can a Monthly Budget Do for You?

A budget gives you control over your money. You’re the boss. Shouldn’t you be the one who tells your money what to do? Harness this power and you could end up on a beach in Hawaii, soaking up the sun during your paid-in-cash vacation.

With a monthly budget, you can dream, plan and move forward with confidence to reach any of your financial goals. And we really do mean any. Making—and sticking to—a budget enables you to find margin in your money, pay off debt, save for the future and so much more!

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