Budget and Stick to it: 18 Steps

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To help you create a budget and stick to it for achieving your financial goals, we’ve gathered advice from 18 professionals, including CEOs, founders, and VPs. From leveraging public accountability to reviewing and adjusting your budget regularly, these experts share their top steps to take for effective budgeting and saving. 

  • Leverage Public Accountability
  • Negotiate Lower Fees
  • Celebrate Budgeting Successes
  • Automate Your Savings
  • Identify Cost-Cutting Opportunities
  • Track Expenses and Income
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
  • Create a Realistic Budget
  • Prioritize Necessary Expenses
  • Monitor Financial Metrics
  • Automate Savings Consistently
  • Use the 50/30/20 Rule
  • Utilize a Monthly Bill Calendar
  • Limit Online Shopping Access
  • Establish a Purpose and Set Goals
  • Use Cash Stuffing With Discipline
  • Create Organized Sub-Budgets
  • Review and Adjust the Budget Regularly

Leverage Public Accountability

In my personal journey toward financial wellness, one of the most effective strategies I’ve employed is leveraging public accountability to create a budget and stick to it. I started by sharing my financial goals with my circle of trusted friends and family, which made the goals feel more real and tangible. 

Whenever I felt tempted to stray from my budget, the thought of explaining my overspending to them motivated me to resist. In fact, one time I was really close to buying an expensive gadget on a whim, but the idea of having to admit this unnecessary expense to my accountability partners made me rethink, and I decided against it. 

Using public accountability in this way can be a powerful tool to reinforce your commitment to your financial goals, and I encourage you to try it.  Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer

Negotiate Lower Fees

One example of a strategy not commonly undertaken when creating a budget is to negotiate lower fees on existing bills such as cable, internet, or cell phone plans. 

As the market becomes increasingly competitive, companies are more likely than ever before to reduce customer bills if they know they may otherwise lose that customer’s business. 

This can lead to significant savings without having to decrease spending on existing items. With the resulting saved money, you can then allocate it towards your financial goals, more easily allowing for what was once considered unattainable! — Carly Hill, Operations Manager, Virtual Holiday Party 

Celebrate Budgeting Successes

Creating a budget and sticking to it, in my opinion, is difficult work. Celebrate your accomplishments along the way. In the long run, I believe that this will make it easier for you to stay on your budget and will help keep you motivated. 

Treat yourself to a small reward if you reach a savings goal or pay off a debt, for example. Just make sure the prize is within your financial constraints! Bruce Mohr, Vice-President, Fair Credit

Automate your Savings

A lot of people tell you to pay yourself first. I think a better approach is to save for yourself first. Set up automatic transfers to your various retirement and savings accounts. That way, the money isn’t just sitting in your checking account and tempting you. 

This works even better when you have high-yield savings accounts and retirement funds that aren’t linked to your main bank account. Spending habits are hard to break, but it can be easier to form new ones if you automate your savings. Temmo Kinoshita, Co-founder, Lindenwood Marketing

Identify Cost-Cutting Opportunities

Of course, the goal of budgeting is to save money, but one step you need to take in order to be successful and reach your financial goals is to look for ways to save. You can do this by reviewing your budget and pinpointing areas where you can cut costs to save money. 

For example, if you find that you spend a lot of money on going out to eat, you can cut down spending here and instead cook your meals, which ultimately will be the cheaper alternative. 

You may also cancel subscriptions you don’t use or negotiate your bills with your service providers to see if you can get a discount. Overall, there are multiple ways to cut down your spending and save money—you just need to figure out which areas you can negotiate or compromise! Bill Lyons, CEO, Griffin Funding

Track Expenses and Income

You can find areas where you might be overspending or where you can reduce expenditures by keeping track of your expenses and income. Additionally, you may utilize this data to make wise decisions on future purchases and investments, ensuring that you are deploying your resources as effectively and efficiently as you can. 

You may keep yourself motivated and on track to accomplish your goals by routinely evaluating your financial accounts and your progress toward them. Additionally, it can assist you in seeing future difficulties or obstacles, enabling you to modify your plan and change the route as necessary.Michael Lees, Chief Marketing Officer, EZLease

Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses

A major problem people have when sticking to a budget is the little purchases they make along the way. Many of us are guilty of ordering takeout after a long day of work, picking up a daily Starbucks order, or wasting groceries. 

While these small purchases may seem innocent enough, they quickly add up and get you off track toward reaching your financial goals. Before making a purchase, ask yourself, do I need this? Or if you need extra motivation, consider how many hours of work it takes you to purchase these daily items. 

By cutting out or at least reducing some of these mundane purchases, you’ll notice your bank account feeling a little healthier and lower stress knowing you have enough money to put towards your financial goals and still pay your bills. Brandon Brown, CEO, GRIN

Create a Realistic Budget

Often, I see people attempting to budget just for the sake of budgeting without considering its implications on their overall lifestyle. If you want to religiously follow your budget, make it realistic. Realistic financial goals will provide you with a head start in creating an achievable and sustainable budget.

Create a budget that takes into account not only your financial goals but also your lifestyle behavior and the situation you are in right now. If you regularly eat out, set aside money for that based on how much you anticipate spending and how much you are willing to spend.

Moreover, don’t make your spending plan too strict. What’s the purpose of working if you can’t occasionally treat yourself to a sumptuous meal or a new pair of boots? After all, you deserve to feel human.

If you don’t make room for the things you want, you’ll eventually give in and ruin your spending plan. Just make sure to plan ahead and remember that the ultimate goal is financial security and independence.Jonathan Merry, Founder, Moneyzine

Prioritize Necessary Expenses

Pay all your bills before buying anything discretionary. When you’re trying to save money, it’s essential to cover all necessary expenses before you try setting money aside. This way, you have a better idea of how much money you have left for casual spending and savings. 

Paying any obligations first allows you to avoid surprise expenses after you’ve already started spending, which in turn helps you avoid having to pull money out of your savings. The best way to stick to your budget is to pay what you need to first. Max Ade, CEO, Pickleheads

Monitor Financial Metrics

Entrepreneurs should track financial metrics to monitor their success. A metric for entrepreneurs to measure is customer lifetime value, which is the total amount of revenue that one customer generates during their entire interactions with the business. 

Monitoring this metric helps entrepreneurs understand how much revenue can be expected from a single customer and what marketing strategies are most effective at keeping them engaged. 

Additionally, tracking customer lifetime value allows entrepreneurs to maximize their returns on investment as they can target customers who spend more money and reward existing customers who have already demonstrated loyalty and commitment.Julia Kelly, Managing Partner, Rigits

Automate Savings Consistently

Automating savings is a surefire way to help you stick to saving money and reaching your financial goals. Too many situations can thwart your best intentions to regularly add to your savings yourself: mainly forgetfulness since an additional task is the last thing anyone needs.

If you don’t automate, you may rationalize not regularly adding to your savings account because of an extra purchase you think you need or deserve. That could snowball into a pattern of doing it less than you initially wanted or not at all.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is an advantage of automating your savings: If you don’t see that money sitting in your checking account, you won’t spend it.

Disabuse yourself of the notion that you need a large amount of money for an automatic savings plan. Start with $5, $10, or $20 at a time. You can increase that by looking for ways to decrease your expenses, such as comparison shopping for your car and home insurance or requesting lower interest rates on credit cards. Michelle Robbins, Licensed Insurance Agent, Clearsurance.com

Use the 50/30/20 Rule

To create a budget and stick to it, prioritize your expenses and allocate your income with the 50/30/20 rule. This rule suggests that 50% of your income should go towards necessities like rent, utilities, and groceries, 30% should go towards discretionary spending such as dining out and entertainment, and 20% should go towards saving and paying off debt. 

By limiting your discretionary spending, you can focus on saving money and paying off debt to reach your financial goals. Automate your savings and debt payments to ensure that you are constantly sticking to your budget. With this system in place, you can achieve financial stability and increase your savings over time. Basana Saha, Founder, KidsCareIdeas

Utilize a Monthly Bill Calendar

One helpful strategy to incorporate when creating sound money and budgeting habits is utilizing a monthly bill calendar. Creating either a handwritten or digital schedule for when fixed expenses are due can alleviate some of the stress around paying bills. 

It also takes away some of the sting by knowing exactly how much is to be paid each month. This tool provides greater clarity towards budgeting because you’ll be more mentally prepared for each withdrawal, and also know where you stand within your budget at any point in time during each month. Eventually, these regular payments become committed to memory, making the budgeting and savings process more attainable. Julie Weidenfeld, President and Chief Wellness Officer, Peak Wealth 360

Limit Online Shopping Access

When creating a personal budget in 2023, you must take control of your willpower and the access you have to popular online shopping platforms. If you have an issue with buying things on Amazon, Etsy, or another store, then you must restrict your access to these platforms. You have to do what it takes because they are so easy to access that you’re bound to slip up eventually.

Some people can delete the apps, restrict their phone use while at home, and accomplish this. While other people have to do more. Find someone to keep you accountable or disconnect your payment methods in these places so you can’t simply click “Purchase.”

There are a ton of things you can do to make it difficult to purchase things online, but some might not be easy. Depending on how bad you can be at purchasing, you might have to take extreme measures. If you are dedicated to living on a budget and meeting your financial goals, you’ll have to do whatever it takes! Yeonsil K., Founder and CEO, Home Spritz

Establish Purpose and Set Goals

Having a budget is great, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t have a purpose behind it. Take the time to think about why you want to save money and what your ultimate goals are. Are you saving for a car, a house, or a vacation? 

Once you have your goals, set a timeline and specific milestones to help you measure progress and stay motivated. If you’re undecided, try setting a general goal, like increasing your net worth by a certain amount. Karl Robinson, CEO, Logicata

Use Cash Stuffing with Discipline

Cash stuffing is a great money-saving tip. You divide your money into separate envelopes for each budget item: housing, groceries, electricity, etc. While cash stuffing, like any budgeting system, can work to ensure you are putting your money into the best possible places and saving for your future, it still takes discipline. 

A common mistake made by cash stuffers is carrying multiple envelopes with them. For example, let’s say you are buying groceries and have $200 in an envelope earmarked for those groceries. 

Then while in the store, you see an item “you just have to have” that would push your purchase beyond your budget, it can be easy to pull money from an additional envelope like “savings” or “vacation” to purchase the item. For cash stuffing to work, you have to use discipline to ensure you don’t pull from one envelope to cover overspending from another. –Andrew Adamo, VP, Bullion Shark

Create Organized Sub-Budgets

Do not just set one overarching budget: break this budget into multiple sub-budgets for things such as food, rent, gas, etc. This sense of organization will allow you to identify precisely how you may be overspending if that is the case. Subsequently, you will know how to adjust rather than having no idea what you should cut back on. Natalia Morozova, Partner, Cohen, Tucker & Ades Immigration Law Firm

Review and Adjust the Budget Regularly

Creating a budget is a great first step, but it’s not enough on its own. It’s all about staying on track and making progress toward your financial goals, which is why regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget as needed is crucial. 

This means taking a look at your spending habits and income regularly (such as monthly or quarterly) and making adjustments to your budget accordingly. For example, if you’re consistently overspending in a certain category, you may need to adjust your budget to allocate more funds to that category or find ways to cut back on your spending. Marc De Diego Ferrer, Founder, MCA Assessors


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