How to stick to your budget

University of Leeds
5 min readNov 21, 2022


Now you have (hopefully!) read our guide to budgeting. We want to help with the next step — sticking to the budget! It’s sticking to your plan that can be stressful, tough and maybe even draining. Below, you will find tips on how to stick to your budget that focuses on limiting opportunities for impulse spending and shifting your mindset.

Worried about your money? Understanding your money, how to budget, how to make more of your money and knowing what to do if things are going wrong are essential skills for life. Here are links and guides to help keep your finances on track.

  1. Set up separate accounts for different funds

Having a good structure of bank accounts will make you more aware of your costs of living and spending habits. If you don’t have this structure, you can often lose money on seemingly small purchases that add up in the long run. If you divide your funds into rent, bills, food etc. into multiple accounts, you will have a clearer idea of where your money is going, which will make it easier to stick to your budget or to adjust it if needed. You can open multiple savings accounts with different goals, for example, an emergency fund, Christmas gifts or vacation money.

2. Set automatic transfers

Automating repetitive payments will make the practice of budgeting easier, including payments like rent or bills. Even better, you could set up an automatic transfer to your emergency fund or savings account every payday/loan drop so you always have some money to fall back on.

3. Review your bank account(s) regularly

Make it a habit to track your spending. By doing so, you make sure you’re on track with your budget, and if you’re not, you can make tweaks to achieve your goals. Remember, spreadsheets aren’t just for office jobs — they can really help you track your budget!

4. Plan your meals

Planning your meals and sticking to a grocery list is an easy way to avoid spending excessively on food — whether it’s buying snacks or buying too many bags of spinach that just go to waste. Additionally, it’s more sustainable, can help you keep a healthy diet and saves time, as you know what you need, and you only need to go shopping once or twice a week. Check out our blog for tips on batch cooking.

5. Buy your groceries online

Building on the previous point, shopping for groceries online will help you avoid buying non-necessities. Most supermarkets offer a click & collect options, so you don’t have to pay delivery fees. However, if you live near an Aldi or Lidl, going to these shops may well be a cheaper alternative!

6. Sleep on a big purchase

Did a funky, retro 80s Adidas fleece catch your eye? Take some time to consider if it will add more value to your life rather than more financial stress. If you’ve forgotten about that highly-priced item after a few days, it’s probably not worth spending your money on!

7. Unsubscribe from mailing lists/turn off notifications

Up late at night and see the ASOS 25% discount notification pop up on your phone? Still got that retro fleece on your mind, haven’t you? Turn them off and save yourself from the temptation!

8. Challenge yourself

For example, see if you can do your grocery shopping with 70% of your normal budget or if you can stop buying takeaway coffees for a month. This doesn’t mean starving yourself but rather try to change your mindset about what you truly need, what makes your life more fulfilling and where you would prefer to allocate your money. If, like us, you like a bit of competition, try challenging your friends or family too!

9. Hang out with people who respect your budget

If you surround yourself with people who spend excessively, you’ll be more likely to spend more money too. On the other hand, when you hang out with people who respect your need for keeping a budget, however tight it might be, they won’t pressure you to participate in activities or buy things that are just not attainable in your current budget.

10. Write down your why and come back to it regularly

In day-to-day life, full of temptations, ads, bad days and so on, it is easy to lose motivation to stick to your budget. But there was something that made you budget in the first place — take time to define that and come back to this regularly to keep yourself motivated.

11. Treat yourself for achieving money goals (on a budget!)

If rewards motivate you, allow yourself a treat every time you reach a milestone. Of course, a part of budgeting can involve a treat within itself, for instance, if you save for a holiday trip, but you could also celebrate small wins like saving a certain amount of money next month or building an emergency fund.

12. Check your social calendar and budget for it

Budget for birthday gifts, events, parties and other one-off events. Organisation and good planning skills are invaluable in life and crucial to budgeting. Sometimes social plans can come as a surprise, but often they are planned in advance, and you can include them in your budget and cut back on spending elsewhere if needed.

13. Learn to say no

To yourself and to others. There’ll be times when you know that you’ll have room in your budget to attend that day-festival or purchase a vintage jacket next month. Sometimes you just have to say no to something or someone for your own good. And remember, your financial peace is more important than what someone else may think about you.

14. Would you work on this for 3 hours?

We work hard for our money, but we rarely connect time at work with spending money. Next time you want to buy a pair of trousers for £50, think about how many hours you’d have to work for them. Would you work for that long to get them? Or, if you don’t work, create an imaginary situation. For example, would you deep clean someone’s house for 5 hours in exchange for trousers? If the answer is no, you likely don’t want them that badly in the first place!