27% of Americans Say Budgeting Is a Challenge. 3 Tips to Make It Easier

by Maurie Backman | Updated Nov. 1, 2021 - First published on Oct. 30, 2021

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Are you struggling to follow a budget? Here are some tips that could help.

Budgeting may not be the most exciting thing you'll do in your lifetime, but it's an important step on the road to becoming financially secure.

By following a realistic budget, you'll have a good sense of where your money goes every month and what your different living expenses cost. From there, it'll be easier to build savings, avoid debt, and sock money away for your life goals, like buying a home or starting your own business.

Around 27% of respondents said they found it challenging to stick to a budget, according to a recent Personal Capital survey. If you've had similar struggles, here are three tips that might help.

1. Don't just guess at your budget numbers

One reason why some people fail at budgeting, or have a hard time keeping up with it, is that their budgets aren't based on actual spending data. Rather, what they've done is guess at their various expenses rather than see what they actually entail.

Budgeting could become far less tricky if the numbers you use in your calculations are more realistic. Simply take a look at your bank and credit card statements from the past year. Then, use those figures to map out your budget. Doing so could make for a less frustrating experience.

Read more: 4 Signs Your Budget Has Gone Bad

2. Update your budget as needed

If you're following the budget you set up three years ago, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Living expenses and income can change significantly over time. That's why budgets often need to be updated.

It may be the case that you used to spend $600 a month on groceries, but maybe now you're spending $650 a month because your tastes and cooking habits have changed. Or maybe you've given up the gym and are no longer paying the $45 a month that was pulled directly from your checking account.

Make an effort to keep your budget current so it's easier to stick to. That includes giving yourself leeway to spend more in certain categories if your earnings have climbed substantially and you've checked off certain financial goals, like calculating and building an emergency fund.

3. Use a budgeting app

Tracking your spending can be time-consuming, even with a budget in place. That's where an app could come in handy.

There are numerous budgeting apps out there that link up to your checking account and credit cards. Those apps will then update themselves with real data so you can see your spending and where you might have room to cut back. Best of all, some of the most user-friendly budgeting apps out there are free, so play around with different options to see which one you like best.

The last thing you want is to face so many budgeting challenges that you give up on it altogether. Sticking to a budget could really help you shore up your finances and meet different goals, so do your best to keep at it for the long haul.

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