This article originally appeared on eZonomics

Self-sabotage. Yes, sometimes we are our own biggest enemies when it comes to sticking to our personal budgets. For every commitment we make to saving money, there is always a temptation to spend just a little on ourselves. What happens when the silly concept of a personal budget gets in the way of the desire to shop? What else: we feel bad.

These feelings are the opposite of how great we feel when we spend money on things that make us happy. When real-life stuff like bills and saving get in the way, it’s time to balance the choice between what we want to do right now and what we know we’ll need long term.

No one likes being told that hard-earned money can’t be used to buy something we really want, but for the sake of our future, it’s time to start listening to the voice inside your head.

Unplugged and unprepared

For help sticking with a budget, you can download an app or sign up on a website to encourage you to spend less or save more money. But what happens when these digital tools aren’t in your face to stop you from random purchases? These tempting moments occur almost daily.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Think about the times you’re at the local pub with friends or feed feelings of hunger with a snack from the office café. These situations are hard to avoid; even our friends might encourage us to “just have one more”. Sticking to your budget might be the difference between feeling guilty and staying ahead of the curve financially.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Think about the times you’re at the local pub with friends, and tempted to spend …

Tools to avoid the temptation

Instead, plan way ahead of time. Create a daily budget, and leave the credit or debit cards at home. Carry your allotted daily spend in physical cash (instead of plastic) so you can keep an eye on what you’ve spent throughout the day; this way, you’re paying attention to what’s left every time you pull your wallet out.

The best part? When your wallet is empty, you can’t spend any more. If notes and coins don’t appeal, why not organize yourself a debit card or digital wallet which only has the amount you’re allowed to spend in it?

You can also be smarter about how you spend your money. Take a page from the party crowd and “pre-game” your social events. One way to do this is to ensure you eat and drink at home before going out and joining your friends. The markup on food and drinks bought from cafés, bars, and restaurants can be high, quickly pushing you out of your budget range.

Sure, it can be challenging, even for the most money-conscious people. The key is to think about your future goals today and plan ahead, especially when tech tools might not be available to rescue your budget.

Committing to these small change strategies will give you a chance to simply do better financially longer term. Moral of the story? While you might not want to do save more in the heat of the moment, a few simple actions can help you achieve your biggest dreams over time. You only have to get started.

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