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How are you doing with your budget this month? The end of the month is just a few days out. Did you find it hard to keep on budget and stay current in tracking your expenses? I make a weekly appointment on my calendar to review my budget progress, but sometimes the appointment gets pushed back due to other tasks or appointments. Do you have a box or envelope filled of receipts to enter over the weekend? When it becomes a chore or a struggle to keep up, it is easy to procrastinate, get discouraged and stop. Just like most resolutions by this time. I credit my weekly check in as my success to keeping within budget and paying down debt. My goal for this year to completely be done with consumer debt, by April I will be done with a car payment 8 months earlier than loan schedule.

Let me encourage you to stay on your plan, the first month is always the hardest and expect to make some adjustments in your process as you change your habits. It is not uncommon to have the following happen even to the best of us.

  1. You forget for a few days or weeks and want throw in the towel and give up.
  2. You figure out that the budget needs to be simplified and/or make adjustments to the categories you may have estimated too much money or not enough for a category. Catching is early will help you make adjustments accordingly.
  3. Forgetting a category all together, like dry cleaning.
  4. Realize that your tracking methods are not working as you anticipated and get frustrated.

Staying the course despite the frustration, will pay off before you know it and easier to manage.  Whatever method you prefer to use to manage your budget, just know you will need to tweak it to make it work for your household. There is really no perfect method and every household and personal preference will be different for each household. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. I prefer to use the cash envelope method for my groceries and meals. I use a debit card for my car allowance and miscellaneous expenses, and manage those within a spreadsheet for the month. There are many apps and software systems that can be used, but the bottom line is to manage your expenses to be within your income and savings goals.  By next month you will have a better sense of what to change, adapt or enhance, and I promise it will get easier to manage and adjust as needed.

Don’t forget to look at your tax planning for the year when you meet with your tax professional when you file your taxes.  Make sure you understand the penalty implications you will face if you or your household does not have health insurance this year. This way you can adjust your budget in order to cover that tax expense. I have found that many still are not aware or understand the additional penalty incurred for my having health insurance last year, thus reducing their refund or creating a tax liability.

What is your method in managing your budget? How many changes have you already done to stay on track?