(Money Talks News) - The most popular New Year's resolutions revolve around getting in better shape physically and financially. One of the most common financial resolutions is setting up a budget and sticking to it.
But whether it is body or bank account, if you've failed at resolutions in the past, it is probably because you missed one or more of three critical steps.
Step 1: Setting a goal
SOT "People have to have a goal," said Howard Dvorkin of Debt.com. "Whether it's saving for a house, or saving for a wedding or a new car, people have to have that goal."
So if you have resolved to live within a budget this year, start by setting a goal. Decide what you want and when you want it. Make sure that goal is important. If your goal is not important, you are not going to achieve it.
Step 2: Make budgeting as simple and as automatic as possible
In the old days, budgeting was writing things down and using spreadsheets.
Today? You can track your expenses automatically with free sites and apps from providers like Mint.
Step 3: Stay on top of it
Check your budgeting app daily to track your progress in reaching your goal. And stick to your budget by staying motivated.
"One trick is simply putting a thing that you desire, whether it's a car or a beautiful home, on your mirror," Dvorkin said. "And you stare at that every morning and every night, and it will motivate you."
The way to stay in shape, whether it's physically or financially, is to set a goal, track your progress, and use every available tool at your disposal.
For more information on how to budget and to find useful tools to help you, head to the Money Talks News website and search 'budgeting.'