Why do budgets fail? You read through your receipts. You set your goals and limits. And you track your purchases. Yet, even after accounting for every dollar and laying out the best laid money design possible, there is still one thing that could sabotage the whole thing: The motivation to participate.
One of the hardest things about keeping your household budget on track is staying motivated. No matter how great your plan is on paper or what kind of budgeting advice you follow, it will all be meaningless and accomplish nothing if the people involved can’t agree to stick to it. People often under-estimate how quickly a low morale can derail your best efforts.
But fear not! A few small rewards or signs of success can be just enough to keep everyone viewing this as a positive thing. So with that, here is my budget advice for keeping everyone motivated and making your household plan work!
My Budgeting Advice for Keeping You on Track:
1. Post pictures of goals. Sometimes just saying “we’re going to pay this off” or “we’re going to go on vacation” is not enough. Put up a picture of that house you want or the place you want to go on vacation to so that it constantly reminds everyone of the goal you’re trying to reach.
2. Keeping a jar of money. Just like posting goals, sometimes physically seeing a jar of money fill over time and build up towards your saving goal can be a very powerful stimulant to keep everyone staying on track.
3. Pay yourself. Not all your money needs to go towards paying bills and debt. Make sure you pay yourself and your family members every paycheck with money that is intended to be spent on something purely fun, up to you, and guilt-free.
4. Delegate different spending responsibilities. Budgets usually fail when one person becomes the “Money-Nazi” of the house. People psychologically buy into the effort when they have some say or element of control within the system. So instead, delegate different aspects of the budget to various family members such as buying groceries, utilities, etc. That way everyone can have a stake in the process and have their say in what goes on.
5. Setup a rewards system. As part of the budget, setup a system within your house that says for every month you stay on track you get to go do something fun as a reward. This doesn’t have to be a big shopping spree or tropical vacation. It can be something very simple like going out to dinner at a local restaurant, seeing a matinee movie, etc.
6. Do the crime, do the time. Don’t just address the positives. If you don’t stick to your budget, have a list of a few small “penalty” things you could do to generate some extra bucks this month. Nothing lethal; just committing to a few quick dollar generators like doing a few online surveys, selling old stuff on eBay, freelance writing, tutoring, giving lessons, (starting a blog?), etc.
7. Redeem gift cards for fun purchases. If your budget is really tight, get creative with finding your fun money from things outside your budget. Do you participate in some kind of rewards program with your credit card, airline miles, or other rewards system? If so, use these rewards to redeem things that can be used for something fun. That way they won’t cost the family a thing and everyone will still get some enjoyment out them.
8. See how the other side lives. This is one of my favorite pieces of budgeting advice because it involves changing your whole way of thinking versus just simply cutting back. When you visit places like the Pottery Barn, it warps your perception about how regular people actually live. Want to really see how people live? Try going to a garage sale, farmers market, thrift fair, flea market, volunteering at a shelter, etc. You’ll probably have a much different opinion about how you live your life, the stuff you own, and how badly you actually “need” certain things in your life.
Readers – What’s your budgeting advice for staying motivated and sticking to the plan?
Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art