family shopping in supermarketCreating a budget is a great step toward financial independence. However, how do you make sure you stick to your budget? Overspending in any area of your budget can create challenges if you’re trying to stretch your dollars. Here are some tips to help you stick to your budget.

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5 Tips on How to Stick to Your Budget

May 12, 2022

family shopping in supermarket

Creating a budget is a great step toward financial independence. A budget helps you make sure there is money put aside for each of your expenses. However, how do you make sure you stick to your budget? Overspending in any area of your budget can create challenges if you’re trying to stretch your dollars. Here are some tips to help you stick to your budget.

Make a list before shopping, even online

It is easy to be tempted by extra items that you didn’t plan to buy. Always make a list of the things you need before you start shopping — in person and online. This will help you stay within the amount you plan to spend, and not go over. Even if you are going to the store for just a few items, make a list of them. There will be things in the store that jump out at you, and next they’ll jump into your cart! If this happens to you regularly in the grocery store, check out these tools from MyPlate.gov that will help you shop for healthy meals on a budget.

Keep your budget with you

It is a good idea to keep a copy of your budget (paper or electronic) with you. You might not feel the need to bring it if you’re not planning to buy anything. However, if you’re in a store and see something you could really use, you can view your budget right away to see if the purchase fits. Depending on how you created your budget, you can even pull it up on your phone through a budgeting app or spreadsheet. Having a spending plan is great, but plan for surprises by knowing your budget and keeping it handy.

Be willing to change your budget

As you continue to use your budget, you may notice there are categories where you frequently spend more than you planned. For example, you plan to spend $100 per month for gas, and you go above that each time. In this case, you need to increase your amount, at least temporarily, for gas. This means choosing another category to spend less in, if possible. Remember, your budget is an ever-changing plan to help you achieve financial goals. You may need to adjust it to fit your needs and stay in line with changes in the economy.

After budgeting for a while, you may find that you have money available to simply save, or you may have purchased an asset like a car. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it’s important to pay close attention to how much money you are allowed to have saved. Remember, the limit for countable resources for people who receive SSI is $2000 or $3000 for a couple. There are also limits on the number and types of things you can own and receive SSI. If you want to save for certain expenses called qualified disability-related expenses, or QDEs, consider opening an ABLE account if you qualify. If you need to save for a specific job goal and receive SSI or can become eligible for it, Social Security may approve a PASS plan for you.

Save money with free resources at the library

Libraries are still a great place to borrow free books, music, magazines, academic articles and much more. You don’t need to buy the latest book in your favorite series—just borrow it from the library. Save money on magazine subscriptions by borrowing a copy from the library as well. Many libraries offer free courses, seminars and fun clubs to join. It’s also still a quiet and peaceful place to hang out and get caught up on reading and other tasks. Libraries offer great virtual options as well to download eBooks, stream movies and participate in free live events.

Don’t quit, budgeting is worth it

Additional Resources

As you work on sticking to your budget and organizing your finances, check out these resources to help guide you to financial wellness!

If you are new to budgeting and have problems sticking to it, don’t be too hard on yourself. As much as we try to plan for everything and budget expenses, it’s easy to lose track and overspend from time to time. You might overspend at dinner with friends or have an expense you forgot to budget. Don’t worry, you’ll get better as you keep the habit of tracking expenses and income. Mistakes can happen, and that’s ok. Just correct them as quickly as possible and keep going!

Do you need help to reach income goals and want to explore working, or want to work more? Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. It connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job, or maintain success while you are working.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

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