How to Motivate Yourself to Stick to Your Budget

money, signing, taxes,

You’ve done the hard work of creating a written budget. You’ve gone through a list of your expenses, charted where every dime of your paycheck goes and set goals that are both realistic and ambitious.

There’s just one problem. You’re having a hard time sticking to your plan.

Sure, your budget sounds great in theory. Unfortunately, resisting the temptation to order that second drink, skip dinner with friends, or continue wearing frayed clothing doesn’t feel the same in the heat of the moment.

How can you motivate yourself to stick to your budget? Here are four tips.

1. Create a Visualization Board

You can create a visualization board (or dream board) using different methods. One option is to literally cut photos out of magazines and tack them on a cork board. Another is to use Pinterest to make a digital visualization board.

The specific type of board you create doesn’t matter. The important thing is to create this visualization board to show you the reason why you want to stick to your budget.

Perhaps you’d like to be debt free. Perhaps you’re saving for a specific goal such as a down payment on your dream home. Perhaps you want to buy a particular car or send your child to college.

Your dream board could have a picture of a gorgeous house, a nice car, a graduation cap, or some stylized internet mock-up that signifies debt freedom.

Regardless of what goal(s) you have, put them on your dream board and place it somewhere, you’ll see it frequently.

This provides a constant reminder of what you’re working toward.

2. Maintain Public Accountability

Share your goal(s) on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. Regularly update your readers, followers, and friends about your progress. Be transparent about the step backward you might take as well.

Maintaining a sense of public accountability can force you to stick to your guns. In the process, you’ll probably form online friendships with others who are pursuing the same goals. These online relationships can further motivate you to stick to your plan. There’s nothing like having a community to support you.

3. Enjoy the Occasional Indulgence

You’re highly unlikely to stick to a budget that’s too strict. Let yourself order that latte from time to time. Turn special treats or indulgences into a celebration.

That doesn’t mean special treats have to be reserved only for big celebrations. It means the opposite. Every time you order a special treat, like that iced latte you love so much, the treat itself serves as a mini-celebration, even if there’s no special occasion happening.

By celebrating the treat itself, you’re honoring and enjoying that treat for what it is: a deviation from the norm that you enjoy because it’s special.

Rather than normalizing yourself to an inflated lifestyle, you’re allowing yourself to occasionally indulge in small treats. All the while, you’re still maintaining a lifestyle that doesn’t keep you living paycheck to paycheck.

4. Track Your Successes

Let’s imagine that your savings goal is $5,000.

That might feel like a huge number. Such a big goal can be overwhelming.

You’re more likely to stay on track if you set different milestones along the way. Perhaps when you save your first $100, you can make a Facebook update or a blog post celebrating your progress. When you reach $500, or your first $1,000, make time to enjoy your success.

The idea is to track and celebrate these little milestones along your journey to break it up. After all, the idea of making it through kindergarten to college graduation seems like a huge, daunting endeavor.

If you break it down into smaller steps - finishing first grade, then second grade, then third grade - the process doesn’t seem quite as long or overwhelming. The same is true when it comes to your financial goals.