Sticking to a budget when you don’t want to

5 easy tricks to stay focused on your budget

Now we’re not saying budgets are boring (shhhh) but let’s be honest, sometimes sticking to your budget is about as much fun as cleaning the oven (and just as easy to put off!) The trick is to think like a money ninja and identify the psychological triggers that can make you ditch your budget faster than you can say ‘another pint, anyone?

Pay in cash

It’s proven. Paying on a card tricks your brain into thinking you’re not spending money. That’s why we like it! It’s not so much fun at the end of the month though, when you realise you’ve spent a fortune on KFC and can’t afford to pay that gas bill! So avoid the plastic and draw out a set amount for each day. Try doing this for just one day a week to ease yourself in gently.

Remember the good times

Psych yourself up if you’re having a tough time sticking to your budget. A study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2015 found out that people were more frugal when they remembered previous times they’d avoided breaking their budgets. So if you’re tempted to splurge on those trainers in the sales, ask yourself, do I really need them? Remember how good staying strong feels.

Don’t shop when you’re in a bad mood

Whether it’s the weekly food shop or getting the kids’ shoes, you’re more likely to overspend when you’re in a bad mood. Research suggests that when things are not going our way, making a buying decision makes us feel in control. Handling money also increases our endorphins (happy chemicals). However, the rush of spending soon wears off and the realisation that we have blown our budget will make our mood even worse! Instead, cheer yourself up by doing something that is free and makes you happy such as dropping by a friend’s house, going for a run or just curling up on the sofa with your favourite film.

Stay logical

It’s when we lose the logical part of our thinking that we’re most likely to break our budgets, according to financial psychologist Brad Klontz. When we’re in a heated situation, such as stressing out over a last-minute holiday booking or feeling the pressure to keep up with friends in the pub, the amygdala (the brain’s emotional centre) kicks in and our feelings take over, leading us into a money-spending frenzy!

Own it

This is your budget, your money goals and your life, no one else can tell you what to do or how to spend your cash. So own it. If you’re tempted to spend on a budget-breaker then remember your money goals, whether that’s saving up for a holiday this summer or wanting a cash buffer in case your car needs repairs – remind yourself it is worth it!