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Budgeting resolutions: 5 ways to start sustainable success.

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Turning over a new spending leaf? Follow these tips now.

One of the best new year’s resolutions you can make for your financial health is to draw up a budget. But just like hitting the gym in February or March, sticking to a budget can be tough to do. Fortunately, we’ve created a gameplan you can use to help turn your spending around.

1. Start now
This one seems obvious, but there’s always an excuse to postpone something uncomfortable, like a budget. Promise yourself you’ll sit down and at least start it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can fine-tune it as you go along.

2. Start small
As you sit down to figure out what you can afford, plan to reduce your spending gradually. If your first budgets are too drastic, you risk not being able to meet them. And that, in turn, can make you feel like you’ve failed and that budgeting isn’t worth it.

3. Start easy
When you’re thinking about spending you can cut, focus on the low-hanging fruit: costs you feel you can more easily do without. Not watching much TV? Consider getting rid of cable. Eating out less? Consider reducing that budget. What you find easy to cut will depend on your specific tastes, but approach it honestly.

4. Start scheduling
Invite yourself to a regular budgeting meeting on your calendar. It could be monthly, it could be weekly. Just pick something you feel you can stick to and treat it like a serious appointment.

5. Start rewarding
If the thought of budgeting still inspires boredom or dread, combine something you like with your budgeting sessions. Treat yourself to a coffee or dessert when you’re setting up and reviewing your budgets. Or plan to go to a dinner and movie afterward. Associate budgeting with something positive.

These are just some of the ways you can make budgeting easier — even painless — in the new year. The most important thing, though, is to start now. Have fun with it and make it yours.

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