Some people are terrified to take a look at their bank accounts. It’s one of those things you just have to rip the bandaid on, unfortunately, that is, unless you want to drown, go bankrupt, or mess up your dependents’ lives.
So, how do you stick to keeping your budget once you’ve created it? How do you keep yourself from “treating yourself” to a manicure, latte, or that one extra drink “just one more time?” Here’s the secret.
Look at what you want, not what you can’t have.
When you wake in the morning, what makes you want to get out from under your comfy covers? What makes you want to go to your job instead of blowing it off? Where do you dream of being? What do you dream of doing? The key to keeping your budget is to actually answer those questions instead of just nod to yourself that they are good questions to ask. Or, let’s be even more real, you probably gave a solid, “Hm” in your mind, and that’s about it.
Let me break this down for you with more questions to consider; who are the people, where are the places, and what are the things you want in life? What values do you have that lead you to prioritize what you do?
After you’ve laid out what it is you truly want in life, it’s time to measure how much they cost.
Do you want kids? A home? A boat? Money for your children to go to college? A vacation home? A dog (or maybe even a cat)? Think to yourself, “What will I be able to afford with the money I save and budget with?”
What kind of dog do you want? What specific colleges do you think you might want to recommend to your kids (or future kids)? What type of house do you want? Start to literally draw out your dream house if that’s what it takes. Visit the college you may want your kids to consider going to one day. Go to a local animal shelter and see what dogs, cats, etc. catch your heart.
The point is this; if you constantly focus on all the small luxuries you usually waste your money on, you’re probably going to say, “Just one more beer,” or, “Just one more manicure,” when the time comes to make or break your budget. Every time you’re tempted to break your budget, think of the things you truly and deeply want in your life, and you’ll be more likely to say, “No,” instead of, “Oh well, I tried.”