Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Discipline and Accountability


This post is part of a series.  To start the series from the beginning, click here.  To browse through the series, click here.

Now that you have chosen your budgeting direction, system, and tools, it is time to put them all to work!

A budget is only as good as you make it.  If you don’t continuously work on your budgeting, it is likely to fail.  The more time you put in to your budgeting, the more you will be rewarded.

What will help to get you motivated to track your finances and stick to your budgets?  This is a very important question for you to answer for yourself before you begin your new budgeting strategy.

Once you’ve determine what will help you be disciplined and will hold you accountable, you are ready to begin budgeting.

Here are five simple steps to keep you disciplined:

  1. Create a Schedule – Creating a schedule for your budgeting will help you stay on track. A simple schedule could be:
    1. Create your breakdown on the 1st.
    2. Check accuracy and make minor adjustments to the budget on the 15th.
    3. Follow up on how the month went.
  1. Share your budgeting plan with a trusted person. – One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable is to enlist someone to help you. You could tell this person as much or as little about your budget as you are comfortable with.  The details of the budget aren’t as important to this conversation as the task of budgeting and following up.
  1. Check in Often – Even though you have specific dates in your schedule, it is important to check in often. You should be looking at your budget every few days or at least every time a new bill is paid or new income is received.  This is important to make sure everything is on track.
  1. Make small changes as necessary – The budgeting system you chose may not end up working as well as you’d hoped. It is okay to make changes to your process, slowly.  Don’t try to make too many changes at once because it can become overwhelming.  Make small changes to only the parts that aren’t working.  If none of the parts seem to be working together, take a step back and consider why they aren’t working.  Is it because there isn’t enough follow up?  Or does money seem to be disappearing?  Most of the time, the budgeting issue isn’t because the tools aren’t working but because there isn’t enough discipline.
  1. Follow up – It is always important to follow up on your budgeting and your changes. You should also be checking in with your savings account every month.  Is your savings increasing?  If so, that’s great! If not, evaluate why.  Is there a spending area that can be decreased?

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Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Forward Budgeting and the Cash System


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Forward budgeting, also known as the ‘forward roll’ is also a three-step process.  Each month, you project your expenses and savings.  At the end of the month, any funds that weren’t used will be transferred into your savings account.  This process repeats each month.


The envelope system can be used in a similar method to reverse budgeting.  The only difference is that you don’t put a set amount of money into the Savings envelope at the beginning of the month.

Instead, allocate the money into the spending envelopes.  At the end of the month, move any money that is left in the envelopes to the Savings envelope.



Using a printable is a fun way of tracking your finances.  There are many budgeting printables online that would be a great solution for your spending tracking and savings rollover.

Computer Spreadsheet

A computer spreadsheet is very helpful when using the forward roll method.  The main point of the forward roll is to maximize saving potential.  A computer spreadsheet can help you to project your savings over time.  This is very useful when saving up for a large purchase like a house or a car.  You can find multiple examples of tracking the forward roll method with a spreadsheet here.


Apps and programs are a great way of tracking spending but can become very complicated when tracking cash.  I recommend using either a paper tool or a spreadsheet to track cash finances.

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Say Goodbye to Living Paycheck to Paycheck: Reverse Budgeting and the Digital System


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A digital budgeting system utilizes credit cards, checking accounts, online interfaces, apps, and many other technological opportunities.  All your budgeting and tracking is kept in digital form and you are responsible for sticking to your budget without having tangible money to stop you from over-spending.

Budgeting Tools


Envelopes are a great budgeting option for the digital system as seen above in the cash system.  The main difference here is that the envelopes are digital and act mainly as a tracking device rather than a place to hold the money.

The digital envelope budget tracking downloadable is a great tool to use to track your budget one month at a time.  Start by allocating each portion of your paycheck to an envelope and noting the amount allocated on the top of the envelope.  When each bill comes due, note the actual amount of the bill and subtract from the allocated total to determine how much is left in that digital envelope.  Note that throughout the whole process, the funds will all reside in a savings or checking account.

Once you have your amount left, you can transfer the money to and from envelopes as needed.  This envelope tracking system can also be printed to track your budgeting.

Yes, you can use a printed tracking tool while having a digital system such as a bank account for storing your money.

Digital Envelope Budget Tracking


Check Register

If you are using a checking or savings account to store your money, chances are the bank has provided you with a check register.  This isn’t the best tool for breaking down your budget into separate categories but this is a great tool for making sure you don’t spend more than you have.

Every time you make a transaction, note the transaction in the ledger lines of the check register.  You will always know how much you have left in your account as long as you make sure to note every charge and deposit.

Computer Spreadsheet

Computer spreadsheets are a great way to track your digital funds.  This helps you break down your finances in any way that works best for you.  A computer spreadsheet is by far the most personalized method for budget tracking.

You can find budgeting spreadsheet tutorials here.


Apps and programs are also a great way to track digital finances.  Most banks have an app where you can see your funds instantly.  There are also other apps that can connect to your bank and create different graphs and spending charts.

Apps and programs are not as personalized as a spreadsheet and typically only show past finances rather than future finances.  Because of this, it can be difficult to create your budget for each category every month.

On the plus side, many apps and programs take virtually no time and you can see your breakdown of spending and saving instantly.

If you are interested in learning more about apps and programs, do a quick search in your platform of choice.  Example: For apps, search the Windows app store, IOS app store, or the Google Play store.  For Programs, use your preferred search engine.  One of the main programs for personal finance is Quicken which works much like a physical check register but can quickly draw up charts.



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