The dreaded task of sticking to a budget doesn’t have to be something that makes you cringe at the very thought. Put a little zest in your thinking and change your attitude by rewarding yourself for a job well done.
It is true that sometimes we have to do things for ourselves, but all too often we take that too an extreme and spend frivolously leaving us living on a paycheck to paycheck basis. The stress this causes is far greater than the items you bought without aa second thought.
Instead, find one item that you want and after you have met your goals, purchase the item. For example, I recently rewarded myself with a pair of personalized sunglasses after a job well done in regards to living on a budget for the previous month. I set a budget, and stuck to it. I came in around $250 under budget last month, and splurged a bit on the sunglasses, but all in all, I was still well under the mark I set for myself.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice…I would have just bought the glasses and thought about it later. Thankfully, I’m a bit more mature with my money now, so sunglasses remain low on the totem pole, while utilities and groceries remain at the top.
Today I have a budget and included in that is extra money for me at the end of the month. The flexibility of working for yourself also comes with the inconsistencies of having an irregular income. I just have to be smart about it. My bills don’t exceed my income and my needs are fairly minimal. My wants, well that is another story.
Having my expenses covered before the month starts is a big priority. I make that my rent, cell phone and car payment are covered first of all. This is the biggest chunk of my expenses. I’m not feeling the pinch nearly as badly as I was during my free spending days. I am fortunate to not have credit card debt, college loans, or any large outstanding debts thus after paying these bills I am left with more than half of that paycheck. I do the same with groceries and gas. I also add a couple hundred dollars to my savings and then comes my “me day.”
I have budgeted $150 a month to spend on me. Some months I pamper myself to a massage, or spa day. Other months I go way under that dollar amount and add the additional cash to my rainy day fund.
This may sound like I don’t have any fun and am restricted to minimal amounts of things. You are only partially correct in your assumption. I have plenty of fun and on those special occasions or emergency situations I have been able to put enough money up to not get my panties in a bunch when paying for that expensive birthday meal. But perhaps the best part of budgeting is that I don’t have to whip out a credit card every time something goes wrong.
Over these last few years, I have found solace in the responsible life. I have everything I need and I have peace of mind when I lay my head on the pillow every night. Maybe your reward is something bigger like a vacation at the end of the year. Budget that trip into your income and at the end of the month when you want to splurge, look at your vacation fund and know that you already did.