20 December 2019

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, getting on top of personal finances is top of many people’s list, with lots of us at the end of every year striving to build up savings, pay off any outstanding debts, building budgets for the next year and more. But when it comes to building a financial plan and budget for the next year, how can you make one that you can actually stick to? Within this blog are a few steps you can take to ensure that you create a New Year’s budget you can stick to.

1. Be Realistic

The first thing you should do, before even thinking about your budget and how you might solve other financial problems, is to make sure that your financial plan is actionable. By this we basically mean that your plan should be realistic, achievable and accurate. There is no point in exaggerating or reducing particular numbers in your budget; whether this is to set higher than achievable targets, or to make targets seem more achievable.

The budget you create needs to be a realistic one, with accurate information and data based on your usual expenses, costs etc. If your New Year’s budget isn’t realistic or achievable, how can you be expected to stick to it?

2. Create your Budget

The next step is quite simply to create your budget for the next year. To do this, you should look at all of your different banking accounts and sources of income, all of your monthly expenses, such as utility bills and groceries and generally get an idea of where you are at right now concerning your finances.

We have a whole section on How to Budget in our new Debt Advice hub, which goes into even greater detail on how to craft the perfect budget, and it even includes a free budgeting sheet that you can download and use.

3. Build an Emergency Fund

A common problem faced by many when creating a new budget, is not having an emergency pot of savings built in to fall back on. As accurate as we would encourage you to be when creating your budget, there isn’t really a reliable way to predict exactly what your monthly expenses will be for any given month – unfortunately as we all know, life tends to have a habit of throwing us unexpected costs from time to time.

If you haven’t got the money saved for unexpected emergencies like car repairs, you can find these unplanned expenses will have a detrimental impact on your ability to stick to your new budget. Having a separate account for your emergency fund can help you to prevent spending it by accident, while giving you the peace of mind to be deal with any surprises without derailing your budgeting and your financial new year resolutions.

4. Remember to Use your Budget

This might seem like an obvious point to make, but too many people go through all the effort of making their accurate, actionable budget, only to not use it, or even forget that they have it! To make sure to remember to use your budget every day you can put it in a place that you can see it every day; print it out and stick it on your fridge or your kitchen cupboard door, or download a copy to your phone to have on the go. To achieve your financial new year’s resolutions, you need to remember to use your budget; you don’t have to review it every day but knowing it’s there is important and keeps it at the front of your mind.

5. The Power of the Word “No”

Another good way to stick to your budget is by learning the power of the word of “No” and being more disciplined with your money. Being on a budget means you will have to say no to spending sometimes, so being disciplined and learning to say “No” to some of your wants is one of the most important budgeting skills you’ll need to develop. You may have to say no to your favourite type of food at the shops, going to the movies when you don’t quite have the money for it, or going out to lunch with your friends.

You have a budget for these exact scenarios, so if you don’t plan on sticking to it to decide when and where you should spend money, there’s really no point even building it out in the first place.

Those were just a few basic tips on how you should construct a New Year’s budget that you can stick to and achieve your financial resolutions. The most important thing to remember is that to stick to your budget you need to be disciplined and consistent with it, and your budget itself needs to be actionable and realistic, with accurate financial data.

For more articles on how you can effectively achieve your financial resolutions, you can visit the Buffa blog here. And if you’re finding that you’re struggling with your finances, you can visit our Debt Advice Hub here, or see how a Buffa loan can help here.

For an even wider range of tips on both savvy money saving and investing, our friends at Wall Strategies have other dedicated articles just like this. Check out their articles here for a range of ideas about how to get smarter with your money in 2020.