All A+FCU branches will be closed in observance of Presidents’ Day Monday, February 20th.

7 Tricks to Staying on Budget

When it comes to finances, many of us see the New Year as an opportunity to start fresh. Often times we have an idea of what we want to accomplish; we just don’t know where to begin. The secret to forming a great plan is to start by constructing a budget and taking control of our money.

If you’ve done that that much, you know the challenging part is sticking to it. To help you start and stay on track, we are sharing 7 tricks to staying on budget. Keep this tool handy year round; you’ll be glad you did.

7 Tricks to Staying on Budget:

Track/analyze spending. Begin by monitoring your transactions for a month. This helps you determine exactly where your money is going. You will clearly see areas you can improve on. Adjust your spending accordingly and periodically revisit your budget.

Create a realistic savings plan. You know yourself better than anyone else. Set goals that challenge you but are attainable at the same time. Setting ridiculously high expectations may lead to discouragement. On the contrary, low expectations fail to maximize potential. Check out Seven Ways to Turn Saving Money into a Habit.

Automate savings. With the madness of everyday life, it is easy to forget a thing or two. Instead of giving yourself something else to remember, ensure you pay yourself first by automating your savings. Online banking is a great way to set recurring transfers on a weekly or monthly basis.

Use the envelope system. This system requires you allocate funds into categorized envelopes each paycheck. You may have envelopes for food, entertainment, etc. When making a purchase, withdraw from the appropriate envelope. When you’ve run out of funds for that specific envelope, you know you have spent the budgeted amount.

Get rid of bad habits. We all have our guilty pleasures. We may buy an expensive cup of coffee each morning or eat out more often than we should. Cutting back or finding ways to save can really help in the long run. Read How to Save at Restaurants for ideas.

Shop with a list. How many of us have gone to a store for one item only to purchase ten more? Browsing may result in us purchasing items we don’t need. Having a list gets us in and out, helping avoid these unnecessary expenditures.

Sleep on big purchases. Every once in a while, we either need or want to make a large purchase. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and make a purchase on impulse. Shop around, compare, and allow yourself time to think things through.