Did you make any financial resolutions for 2019? A national survey found financial goals were the fourth most popular New Year’s resolutions, behind dieting, exercising and losing weight. Now is the time of year when people begin to “fall off the wagon” regarding New Year’s resolutions. And, budgeting is especially hard to stick to, with nearly 70 percent of Americans reporting that they struggle sticking to a budget. If you are among them, read on for tips to stick to staying on a budget.

Use a budgeting tool. A successful budget must be recorded somewhere – and human error could get in the way with a pen-and-paper method. Many websites, including Consumer.gov,  NerdWallet  and Mint, offer free Excel spreadsheet templates to help with recording budgets. If you’re looking for more mobile options, consider budgeting apps including  EveryDollar  and  YouNeedABudget .

Be realistic about spending and saving. Don’t set goals you can’t realistically achieve with your budget. Trying to spend too little or save too much each month could create frustration, which will increase the likelihood you’ll dump your budget altogether. Instead, map out incremental changes you can make that will add up to big financial gains over time.

Keep goals in mind. Reminding yourself how you’d ultimately like your money to work for you can help with exercising control over impulsive spending habits. If you have a hard time picturing your long-term goals when you’re tempted to splurge, consider making those goals visual. Try keeping a picture of your ideal retirement in your wallet or a list of all the reasons you want that new car stuck to the fridge. 

Reward yourself. It is important to keep long-term goals in mind but rewarding yourself for small budgeting wins along the way will keep you feeling positive about your budget. The more positivity you feel toward a task, the more likely you are to continue performing it. After you
reach certain budgeting goals, treat yourself to a small splurge. You earned it!