We have professed our 'frugal lifestyles', but most don't like the word BUDGET!
It can be a scary word - most people think of charts and ledgers, stock markets, and definitive answers.
Frugal is being a good steward of you things and money, and making it go as far as possible. Much less intimidating.
Well, in my opinion, they go hand in hand. You take care of your money and your money takes care of you. Some of the wealthiest people on the planet got that way by being frugal.
It doesn't matter how much money you have or how little - you still need to budget. That strictly means not spending more than you make or have. Living within or below your means! If you make smart choices - your future will be brighter!
Whether on a piece of paper, a journal, or on the computer - make a list of all your spendable income. Opposite that list all your expenditures. There are 2 types of expenses.
FIXED - are things like mortgage, car payments, insurance, utilities - things that are pretty much the same every month.
DISCRETIONARY - are items that change from month to month, like food, eating out, maybe even charge card bills.
If your expenses are more than your income, you need to make changes for sure.
You can earn more - get another job OR you can spend less (easiest choice).
If given the chance have your bills deducted straight from your account each month - AND make sure that you have that written on your calendar for each and every month. You don't want to forget a deduction.
ALSO have your checks placed directly into your bank account. If you don't have it in your hand - you are less likely to spend.
You can merge both on-line banking with check writing - it is strictly what works best for you. What works best for you MAY NOT be what you have been doing in the past - so think about it.
Keep track of ABSOLUTELY EVERY PURCHASE MADE for a couple months. I am talking about utilities, insurance, that morning pop or coffee, a pack of cigarettes, a pack of gum, etc. Write WHAT you bought and HOW MUCH you spent. At the end of those couple months, you will see exactly where your money is going - and trust me - it will make you sick when you see the waste!
That is when you get busy and cut stuff out, and pay things off, and save.
1. Pay everything that HAS to be paid and is FIXED.
2. Pay off your other debts as quickly as possible. Do what works for you - we used to pay minimum on most and over on the highest interest ones and pay them off first. Then work on the next one!
3. Pay YOURSELF as well. Yes indeed. Try you absolute best to pay yourself 10%. Place that in the bank for emergencies.
4. If you can get into a 401K (or similar) plan, especially one that matches funds - do NOT hesitate! These monies come out before taxes, and it makes very little difference in your take home pay. If the company matches - that is just FREE money!!!!!! It is a no brainer. This could be all you have for retirement - folks in the U.S. please don't depend on always having Social Security. You need to plan on taking care of yourself.
5. If not weekly, at least once or twice a year GIVE to something to help others. Whether you tithe at church or give to some other organization or directly to someone - do something caring and selfless. I know this may sound crazy - as you are trying to get ahead - but it makes you a better person and it makes you a happier person - the rest will all fall into place. Trust me!!!!!!
If your expenses are larger than income - you need to make some big decisions. If you want to make more money - think second or third job. NO it isn't fun. NO you won't have free time. YES it will pay off - hopefully in the short run.
Sell things you don't use or need.
Do what ever you need to (and legal) to increase income.
Spend LESS! You can do it. Cut back on groceries - make no spend weeks/months. Eat what you have - it may not be fancy - but you will survive.
NO eating out.
NO outside entertainments (for a while)
NO buying new clothes, toys, gifts, etc. IF you need a gift, make something.
QUIT using charge cards. Spend cash only - and never carry more cash that you can truly afford to spend.
Cut out bad habits - that is a huge vacuum on cash flow.
If something breaks or quits - figure out another way. Do without for a bit. It won't kill you!
Make yourself a goal - it doesn't matter if it is paying off a charge card, paying off the house or car, paying off student loans, reaching $1,000 in savings, or retirement in the near future. MAKE GOALS! They are important. They give you something to strive for and look forward to.
We ALL make budgets a lot more difficult than we have to. It is really simple to understand - never spend more than you make. Live beneath your means.
NO you don't have to live like a pauper always. You can live a good life, just differently. As you start making changes, you will see the world with a new set of eyes. Most of all you will be happier and less stressed!
We all need to quit saying I WANT - and stick with needs.
We all need say I WON'T or I DON'T need or want to do or participate.
We all need to make sacrifices in order to get ahead.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO STAY ON TRACK WITH YOUR FINANCES?
We all need to learn from each other!