Can't Stick to a Budget? Eight Secrets to Succeeding Long Term

Tools and automations can help make budgeting less of a hassle.

A woman's hands hold a piggy bank while putting a coin into it.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to saving money and growing your wealth, budgeting is a common solution that always seems to crop up. However, while building a budget is an effective step for some, others may find they have a hard time sticking to one long term. Whether it’s because they feel too restricted by the budget’s parameters, or they simply find making one too complicated and time-consuming, many people struggle to reap the benefits of this money-planning technique.

But this doesn’t mean that a budget isn’t for you. According to the financial experts of Kiplinger Advisor Collective, there are a few tricks you can use to make budgeting easier and possibly even more fun to do. Read on for their budgeting secrets and how you can finally stick to your budget for the long haul.

Setting up an automatic savings program
“Budgets are like diets — they work for a while but are eventually broken. Getting on an automatic savings program helps you avoid all temptations and keeps you saving monthly.” — Louis Barajas, International Private Wealth

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Leveraging technology to remove the hassle
“Budgeting is boring. The solution is tech. There are free and paid apps that take the hassle out of creating — and maintaining — a monthly household budget. These budgeting apps do the math for you, and their budgets are simple to tweak. Let's say you want to see how much money you'd save by dining out one less time a month. A few taps, and you know. These apps eliminate all the excuses for not budgeting.” — Howard Dvorkin,

Addressing your feelings about money
“A budget is simply a plan. The reason we can't stick to the plan has less to do with the numbers and more to do with our relationship with money. We must address how we think and feel about money before we can realistically follow a budget. This is effective because our emotions will be connected to the goals. It's these emotions that often make the decision for us to stick to or spend over our budget.” — Jason Vitug, Phroogal

Aligning your spending with your passions and priorities
“Budgets are restrictive and painful. A more sustainable approach is understanding your passions and priorities. A focus on being intentional with your decision-making as opposed to thinking about sacrifice can make sticking to a budget more palatable. Of course, emergencies and opportunities may arise, but aligning your spending with your passions and priorities can reduce frustration.” — Marguerita Cheng, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

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Ensuring your budget is realistic
“Sticking to a budget is hard, especially an unrealistic budget. The key to sticking to a budget long term is to make sure that the budget is realistic for your situation. How do you do that? First things first, track all your expenses for a month or two. This will show you what you are spending and where. Many are surprised at what they actually spend. That itself may create your budget.” — Bob Chitrathorn, Wealth Planning By Bob Chitrathorn of Simplified Wealth Management

Incorporating discretionary spending
“Include a buffer for discretionary spending within your budget. This helps you enjoy life and reduce the temptation to splurge impulsively. Allocating funds for spontaneous purchases can make it easier to stick to your overall budget.” — Manoj Kumar Vandanapu

Paying yourself first
“Forget about creating the ‘perfect’ budget and ensure you pay yourself first. The most reliable way is to set up automatic contributions so part of your paycheck goes straight to savings before you even see it. This way, you're not relying on willpower to do the right thing, your savings grow without any additional effort, and when surprises hit, you've got a cash cushion to absorb the blow.” — Kiersten Saunders, rich & REGULAR

Making budgeting a nonnegotiable habit
“To stick with a budget long term, make it a nonnegotiable habit. Always be closely monitoring your finances and making sure to budget for your fixed costs first. Variable costs should always be secondary. The more dedication you allocate to priority-based budgeting habits like this, the better your chances are of sticking with it for life.” — Justin Donald, Lifestyle Investor

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The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

Kiplinger Advisor Collective

Kiplinger Advisor Collective is the premier criteria-based professional organization for personal finance advisors, managers, and executives.