5 ways to make sure you stick to your budget

4 min read
Person in blue shirt sitting at desk with notebook, laptop and phone

Key Takeaways  

  • Budgets are an important part of managing your finances. 

  • Learning how to stick to a budget takes time and practice. 

  • Having a goal with a clear end date can help you stay on track.  

Sticking to a budget can be challenging. The good news is that making mistakes is part of the learning process. When you start to get the hang of it, you’ll have a better understanding of your relationship with money and more control over your personal finances. We can’t give you a magic spell to keep your budget on track, but we’ve rounded up a few tips that can help you overcome challenges and stay inspired to stick to your budget.[1] 

Why it's important to stick to your budget 

A budget is an important tool to help you keep your finances on the right path. But using a budget can also help you in other ways. Here’s a closer look at why sticking to a budget matters.[1]

  • Cover your expenses: A budget helps ensure you have enough money to cover your bills and other financial responsibilities like housing, utilities, and transportation.[1][2]  

  • Track your spending: Your budget provides visibility into your spending, so you can see where your money is going and pinpoint areas where you may be overspending.[1][2]  

  • Reach financial goals: Whether you want to save for long-term goals, like retirement, or short-term goals, like a home repair project, a budget gives you the opportunity to turn your goals into reality.[1][2]  

  • Manage your debt: A budget provides a clear picture of your debt, helping you determine the best path to tackle debt head-on.[1] [3] 

  • Improve your relationship with money: A well-thought-out budget can teach you to be more intentional with your money choices, increase discipline, and help you understand what you truly value.[1][2]  

  • Reduce financial stress: Paying bills and planning for the future can be stressful, but effective budgeting can help decrease money woes and create positive feelings about your financial future.[1][2]   

5 ways to stick to your budget

1. Get excited about your goal 

Although paying your bills on time and saving for an emergency fund are certainly solid budgeting goals, sometimes it helps to have a goal that you can get really excited about. Maybe it's saving for a kitchen remodel, planning a wedding, or putting money away toward a down payment on a house. As you think about creating your budget, choose a goal that will keep you motivated, even when it gets tough to stay on track.[4]  

2. Set a date 

Choosing a deadline to reach your goal is often a good way to stay on top of your budget. When you have a tangible finish line, like a dream vacation, you’ll have something to look forward to at the end of a certain amount of time. You can also set milestones along the way to celebrate your progress for extra motivation.  

3. Create a visual reminder that you interact with daily

From a simple spreadsheet to budgeting apps or even your bank’s online services, you’ve got many tools available to help you manage your budget. Just be sure to choose a tool that requires you to engage with your budget daily. Maybe you receive a reminder from an app every morning or put $20 a day in a jar. Research different budget tools and ideas to find the best fit for your lifestyle and money goals. Don’t be afraid to switch things up if something isn’t working for you. 

4. Remember why you created your budget 

Sometimes it can be hard to stick to a budget when you lose sight of why you set financial boundaries for yourself in the first place. When you get the urge to veer from your budget and spend impulsively, try to pause and remind yourself of your original goal. You can try techniques like putting up sticky notes, creating a vision board, or sending yourself “countdown” reminders.[4]  

5. Build in some fun 

Budgeting is a great way to save for serious goals and keep up with your bills. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Try adding some fun things to your budget like an occasional meal out, special gift, or other treat. Rewarding yourself occasionally, like getting takeout only on Fridays, can help give you something to look forward to. It also makes getting through a week (or month) of sticking to a budget a little bit easier.  The

Bottom line 

Making a realistic budget often involves setting a goal, making a plan, and finding ways to stay the course. If you’re a beginner budgeter, remember it’s okay to start small. Try saving up $100, paying off a small bill, or skipping takeout on weeknights.

Once you’re feeling more confident in sticking to a budget, you can work your way up to bigger financial goals. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start, many professionals are available to help, including financial coaches, financial advisors, or certified public accounts (CPAs).[1][2][3] 

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Budgeting: How to create a budget and stick with it.” 

  2. Consumer.gov. “Making a Budget.” 

  3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “How to get a handle on debt.” 

  4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Setting SMART goals.” 

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