If you are planning to start balancing your income and spending, here are four things to keep in mind before you dive headfirst into budgeting in 2020.

1. Budgets are not just a New Year’s resolution.

Budgeting is more than just a January whim, so don’t view it as such. Before you begin, be honest with yourself about whether you are ready to make changes that extend into the foreseeable future.

2. You will need a support system.

Know that you don’t have to do it alone. Tools like budget apps can help track your spending, while people in your life can hold you accountable.

“An accountability partner or budget buddy can really be helpful when your motivation is waning about the end of February,” said Colleen Weber, a certified financial planner in Chanhassen.

If you are part of a couple, devote 20 minutes each week to talking about money together, she said. Look back at your recent money decisions, anticipate major expenses coming up and get on the same page about strategies to reduce spending in the week ahead.

If you are not part of a couple, potential encouragement is everywhere. “If you have a picture of a vacation place that you want to go to, post it on your refrigerator or somewhere where you would see that regularly,” Weber said. “You can say, ‘This is why I packed my lunch today.’ ”

3. Fun won’t be a distant memory.

When you commit to budgeting, you don’t have to kiss movies, concerts, vacations and fancy dinners goodbye.

In fact, it’s critical for you to leave room for discretionary spending. Ideally, according to the 50/30/20 budget, 50% of your budget should be allocated for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings and debt repayment.

When you do have to cut back, it helps to change your thinking. Budgeting doesn’t always have to be confining.

“Think of it in terms of a predetermined spending plan and not a budget restriction plan,” Weber said.

4. Don’t expect perfection.

Remember, you are not perfect — and your budget doesn’t have to be perfect. Be patient with yourself, especially if you’re taking steps in the right direction.

That being said, check in on your progress regularly to review your spending and ensure you’re following through with the budgeting goals that you’ve implemented.


E-mail: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.