Budgeting is the foundation of taking charge of your money. Why? Because budgeting is telling every dollar what to do. Every. Single. Dollar.
But let’s be honest—sometimes all this budgeting stuff gets . . . well . . . exhausting. It can be tough to keep that financial drive alive.
No matter where you find yourself on your budgeting journey, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to keep the motivation going along the way.
Why You Lose Motivation
Maybe you don’t wake up early once a month excited and ready to create a new budget. That’s okay. (Or maybe you do. That’s super okay.) The thing is, the real excitement should be over what budgeting does for you, today and in the long run.
Those long-run moments (like destroying all your debt) can sometimes feel super draining in the short term. Sometimes the excitement of fun right now or the short-term thrill of impulse spending can take our eyes off our priorities. And sometimes life gets so busy that we lose the consistency of staying on top of our money.
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As a result, our budgeting—a major key to financial peace—takes a back seat. It happens to everyone. So first, show yourself some grace. Then jump into these practical tips.
How to Stay Motivated as You Budget Month to Month
Here’s a few of our favorite ideas for pumping up the volume on your motivation:
1. Surround yourself with people who respect your budget.
If you hang out with senseless spenders, you’ll be tempted to do the same. Like-minded people act as living reminders of your money goals. They won’t pressure you to do stuff outside of your budget. Plus, they’re great resources when you have a question or need a little accountability.
2. Make budgeting easy with an app.
Okay, not just any app. Our app—EveryDollar. Because you can try to keep up with pencil and paper or spreadsheets, but they aren’t as easy. And let’s face it, an easier budget is one you’re way more likely to stick to.
3. Define your why.
What brought you to the idea of budgeting? What are you hoping to make happen? Dig deep and be honest about the reasons you want to take control of your money once and for all. That’s your why. And when things get tough or boring—remember your why!
4. Make your goals visual.
Hang up images around the house of visuals that represent your goals. Paying off that car? Put a picture of it on your fridge to remember why you’re cooking at home instead of ordering that delivery pizza. You’re adjusting your budget and living by it so you can make big things happen. So, make sure you’re reminding yourself of those big things. Every. Day.
5. Budget for fun.
Another way to lower the risk of budgeting burnout is to make sure you budget for fun. Now, if you’re saving for an emergency fund or paying off debt, that fun money is going to be super small. Remember, that small budget line is just for a season. And speaking of seasons, check out our list of budget-friendly fall activities for fun money inspiration!
6. Learn more about budgeting and money management.
Sometimes when motivation drops off, it’s because we start to doubt ourselves. Am I even doing this stuff right? If questions like that pop up, then take a little time to learn more about how to do this money thing better. Start with a free trial to Ramsey+, where you can test-drive the premium version of EveryDollar and watch money courses like Budgeting That Actually Works. With all the practical budgeting knowledge you get, you’ll be more pumped up than all the bike tires at the Tour de France combined.
7. Celebrate wins (big and small).
If you’re motivated by rewards, don’t feel bad. First of all, that’s natural. Second, use that to keep your motivation up. When you reach a goal—even a small one—celebrate! After you budget three months straight, pay off a debt, or cut extra spending for 30 days, treat yourself to a budget-friendly reward.
8. Keep moving forward.
The decisions you made yesterday don’t have to determine today. And by “yesterday,” we mean your past and literal yesterday. When you make mistakes with your money (and you will—everyone does) don’t throw a pity party. Keep. Moving. Forward.
9. Find better ways to deal with stress than spending.
So, if you’re an emotional spender, or if you respond to stress by buying things, you can change that habit. But you need to think of budget-friendly replacements for that go-to action. A nice relaxing bath, a walk or run outside, playing a card game with the fam, drinking a cup of chamomile tea—these are all great ideas.
10. Track expenses like you track social media.
Let’s be honest, your budget is more important than your feed. Yes, we said it! It’s way more important to track expenses and stay on top of your spending that it is to see what a near-stranger is having for dinner. Of course, it’s okay to jump on Instagram, but make sure it’s not getting more of your attention than your money goals.
How to Stay Motivated to Reach Long-Term Money Goals
Maybe budgeting month to month is a breeze, but you’re having trouble staying focused on bigger money dreams like ditching all your debt, paying off your home, or saving for retirement.
It makes sense. In some situations, those goals might take years to reach. But you’ve got what it takes. Try these tips to make it easier:
1. Split big goals into smaller goals.
Simple enough, right? Let’s say you’ve been paying extra toward your mortgage for a while and you still owe $60,000. Why not break that total into quicker-to-reach numbers? Six smaller goals of $10,000, with a celebration after you hit each, seems far more manageable.
2. Set up auto-drafts.
Wherever possible, put your goals on autopilot. Set up auto drafts that send money directly to your retirement accounts, mortgage company or lenders. By never seeing the money in the first place, you’re less likely to miss it—and more likely to feel a welcome surprise at your progress along the way.
3. Prepare for burnout.
Know that, most likely, a season of burnout is headed your way. Hey—it happens to us all! Go ahead and decide now what you’ll do when it comes. Whatever you decide, don’t give up on your goals. They’re worth fighting and budgeting for!
4. Keep on top of your goal progress.
When you’re following your progress, it’s a steady reminder that you’re getting closer to your goals! We’ve made it super easy to do just that with our new BabySteps app. Destroy your debt and save faster than ever. This interactive tool makes it fun to track your money progress (yes, really)—giving you that extra oomph to crush those money goals like never before. Because you’ve got what it takes. You just need to keep moving!
The BabySteps app is another feature inside the Ramsey+ membership. So, give that free trial a test-run so you can stay on fire and on target with all your money goals.