Coco Chanel said “I like my money where I can see it…hanging in my closet” and from the looks of my jammed packed walk-in closet, I do, too. Even though I’m good, and I mean like really good, at helping you all stick to your budgets, I confess. I have trouble sticking to my own. I get one email from Nordstrom’s alerting me of their big sale and I forget all about the clothing line item on my budget. A few too many thick cut filets and something flambeed at trendy downtown eateries and my dining out budget for the month is done. With that said, I’ve decided 2018 is going to be different. I’m going to stick to a budget. Lord willing.

Oftentimes, we take an all or nothing approach to budgeting. Whether it’s to pay off a looming credit card balance, buy a new car, or just save for a family vacation, commonly, budgets are done with short term goals in mind. This can lead to a “diet” approach to budgeting. Many go on diets to fit into a swimsuit for a summer vacation, count calories to make a wedding dress fit, or meticulously track fat and cholesterol in anticipation of an upcoming physical only to switch back to old eating habits once the short term health and fitness goals are met. Similarly, once the credit card debt is paid, the new car purchased or the family vacation is over, people often revert back to their pre-budget spending habits.

Budgeting should be used as more of a long range strategy to boost your overall financial goals instead of a diet type quick fix solution. Changing your view of budgeting from one that focuses on short term objectives to one of long term financial goals can help you achieve financial stability. Don’t expect change overnight. Set reasonable attainable goals that will help build confidence when tackling bigger financial issues in the future. Your overall financial health will improve when you view budgeting as more of a lifestyle change and less of an all or nothing diet. Below are some tips to help start the process.

Write it down. It’s boring and tedious but creating a budget and tracking your expenses is the single most important thing you can do to save money and increase your overall financial position. Go old school and write it out long hand on a spiral notebook or kick it up a notch and go high tech automating it with online software.

Lose the sense of entitlement. Having an entitled mindset of I “deserve” a new car or a bigger house can lead to uncontrolled spending on luxuries not necessarily in your budget. Accept that you want things, budget in small amounts every month for those splurges. Budgets are not just for necessities in life. The splurges need to be budgeted for, too. Can someone please show me where the designer high heel line item on my budget is? Seriously, splurge but don’t got overboard.

Be reasonable. Don’t plan a budget you will never be able to keep. Just like a diet or exercise program, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t worry Ashland Nails. There’s just some things a girl can’t live without.

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