What Are the Best Tips for Living on a Budget?

Tara Barnett

Living on a budget is a necessity for most people, although some budgets are less restrictive than others. The best tips for living on a budget are to be reasonable when planning the budget and to prepare for problems with the budget. When it comes to sticking with a person's plans, some of the best tips are to avoid temptation and cut spending wherever possible. Some people do not think very far ahead when planning a budget and fail to notice areas where spending can easily be cut. Ways in which a person's budget can be improved change over time, and being mindful of changes to lifestyle can prevent burnout and overspending.

Overspending is alway a temptation.
Overspending is alway a temptation.

For many people, living on a budget is like going on a diet. In these cases, the budget must be obeyed until a certain goal is reached, at which time a less restrictive spending plan will be formed. People in this situation often have more success with a budget when reminded frequently about the reasons for it. Like dieting, this type of budget must not be too intense because this can easily lead to overspending when stress is experienced.

Using coupons can help save money when living on a budget.
Using coupons can help save money when living on a budget.

Unfortunately, many people must live on a budget that is highly restrictive with no end in sight. For these people, the best tips are mainly for managing this lifestyle in the long term. Eating on a budget, for example, can be improved by investing time instead of money. It is important to remember, however, that spending fewer dollars does not make sense if someone thinks about her time as valuable as well. In order to save time that could be used earning money, it is sometimes logical to spend a little more money.

Keeping track of expenses is important when living on a budget.
Keeping track of expenses is important when living on a budget.

One of the major problems many people have when living on a budget is spending. The temptation to overspend can be overwhelming and is made much worse by shopping without planning. A great way to avoid overspending is to always be sure to buy only what is on a grocery list. Spending too much on frivolous items should be avoided by waiting to make purchases after thinking about the item for several days. Living on a budget usually does not entail cutting out all enjoyable activities, but it may involve scaling back significantly on things a person does not need.

Credit cards should be used sparingly when living on a budget.
Credit cards should be used sparingly when living on a budget.

Having self-control is the key to success with any well-planned budget. Unfortunately, many people do not have the self-control needed for this type of restrictive lifestyle. Most individuals, however, have one method or another that can be used to make self-control easier. For some people, documenting success using logs and computer programs is enough encouragement to stick with the budget, while for others small rewards after meeting goals can be more effective. Finding a trick that works on a personal level can make living on a budget much easier and may even make meeting budget goals seem like fun.

Writing a shopping list and purchasing only those items may help some people save money while grocery shopping.
Writing a shopping list and purchasing only those items may help some people save money while grocery shopping.
Numerous budget management spreadsheets and other personal finance tools can be downloaded for free.
Numerous budget management spreadsheets and other personal finance tools can be downloaded for free.

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Discussion Comments

ZsaZsa56

I used a budget calculator and then plugged all the information into a budget spreadsheet. It was only once I could look at it on the screen and really see everything I was spending my money on that I could start to rein in my spending.

There are lots of great online resources that can help you find information about staying on a budget. Budget planning does not have to be a pain in the neck if you have good tools to help you.

truman12

It took me a long time to learn how to live on a budget. My biggest problem is that I am very social and I wanted to go out on the town as much as I could. I did not spend that much on cars or clothes or my apartment, but all my money went to restaurants and clubs and day trips.

I learned eventually that I have to limit myself and do things on a schedule. I plan one night a week when I can go out for dinner. One night every two weeks to go out for drinks. If I am diligent about it and pay attention to how much is going out of my account I can live on a budget and actually save a little money.

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