Thursday, September 12, 2013

Creating a Realistic Budget - Tip 4

Budgeting -- ooh, what a scary word! If you want to frighten someone whose finances are out of control, suggest that they tally up their expenses on a piece of paper. We all understand the value of such an exercise, but when it comes to the practicality of putting a budget together, we get cold feet. Budgeting doesn't have to be so painful, when you have a systematic series of steps to follow.

Visit if Tip 1, Tip 2 and Tip 3 if you have not yet read it.


Now I guarantee that you will not remember every expense, no matter how hard you strain your brain! Think about all of the things that you buy throughout your week without really paying attention -- snacks at work, a magazine when you stop for gas, that cup of coffee on your way in every morning. And don't forget about the expenses you are racking up because of financial disorganization -- interest charges on your credit card debt, late fees because you forgot to return that movie on time, overdraft charges because you didn't balance your checkbook. All of these fall into the category of unconscious spending. You just do it because it's a habit. And although you think that a dollar here or fifty cents there is insignificant, it can really add up.

So for a month, record every penny that leaves your hand, in the form of a check or cash or a credit card transaction. This may sound like a huge challenge, but you can do it! Make it convenient -- my husband stuck a small pencil and piece of paper in his wallet so he would be reminded to make a note every time he made a purchase. You will be stunned when you see where your money is really going! My husband was shocked to find out that he was spending almost a hundred dollars a month on that morning coffee (am I picking on Starbucks too much?!) What's your vice -- eating out when you are feeling lazy? Buying every new CD or magazine that comes out? I'm not suggesting that you completely eliminate these habits -- just that you decide how often you can reasonably afford to indulge and still reach your other financial goals.
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