The Secret Behind Budgeting Successfully

Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend. I had an amazing time in NYC, taking in the sites and decompressing from the stressful tax season. I’ve also caught up on the tasks that I didn’t get to complete those last few weeks, like updating our budget and getting organized for the closing on our new home.

Having to take a good amount of time to catch up on my budget spreadsheet and crosscheck our joint expenses with Mint reminded of the number one quality that it takes to become a successful budgeter.


You don’t fail at budgeting because it’s too complicated or it’s too hard to figure out.  You fail because you don’t stay disciplined in updating and going through your expenses to make sure you are on track with your goals. Eventually, week after week of neglect gets so overwhelming that you fall off the wagon completely because you feel like you have gone so long that you can’t catch up.

Budgeting doesn’t have a magic bullet that will put your perfect budget in place and make all of your money woes disappear.  It takes steady monitoring and tracking of your expenses to develop a budget that fits your lifestyle and accurately reflects your relationship with your spending.

So the simple key to developing a good budgeting habit involves establishing a certain time frame that you will review and update your budget.

I usually do it at least once a week on Sunday…Ben and I save our receipts, and I also go through our bank and credit card transactions.  At the end of the month, I fill out my balance sheet, and match the transactions to our Mint account.  

But you can do whatever works for you: once a day, every other week, or on the 15th and last day of the month. Use a day that gives you the best opportunity to take time out to review your finances.

As I’ve said before, modern technology and online banking allow you to easily track your expenses without having to enter everything yourself.  You just need to make sure that your software categorizes the expenses correctly.

Of course you will have times like I did when life is too crazy to keep your set date. Don’t panic. Just make a concerted effort to catch up once the stress ends. It may take a little longer but not letting the budget get out of hand will pay more dividends down the road.  And if you do get to the point where you think can’t catch up, use that as a new starting point. Giving up completely should never be the final outcome for you.

Developing the habit of budgeting through continual discipline will make the process easier as time goes on. And who knows, you may get to the point that I have where you love budgeting and couldn’t imagine not doing it.