Making and sticking to a budget shouldn’t make you feel trapped. If done properly, it should actually make you feel financially free, since you are in control of your money as opposed to your money controlling you.

But even so, many people despise the idea of budgeting. Here are five ideas that may help you budget, even if scaling back is something you’d rather not do.

  1. Write it down and stick to it. When you actually see your spending habits written out on paper, it’s easy to see and feel the impact of your problem areas.
  2. Organize your budget. It’s a lot easier to organize when you realize that expenses generally fall into one of three categories: fixed, variable, and fun money. Fixed expenses are bills that are typically the same each month. Variable bills fluctuate and are less predictable. Fun money makes you feel like you are rewarding yourself from keeping all your other expenses in line.
  3. Dedicate up to 50% of your income for needs. These are things that you cannot live without, such as housing, food, transportation, loans, and insurance. Then leave 30% for wants and 20% for debt repayment and savings.
  4. Plan for the future. Think beyond this month to things such as holiday shopping, weddings, and planned travel. These things impact your budget sporadically but in larger chunks, so planning is a must.
  5. Save money for a rainy day. Just as important as saving for planned activities, it’s critical to save for the unexpected as well.