A key way to manage your family finances is to make a budget and then stay on it. For some, it is like saying you are going to diet and then…struggling to resist that Twinkie. If you want to stay on your budget, you have to resist the Twinkie.
Resist the quick drive-thru dinner, the matinee of the latest Marvel movie, the newest pair of shoes or shade of nail polish. Yes, even buying nail polish for $3.00, when it isn’t in your budget can derail your family finances.
So how do you stay on a budget?
- Only buy what is on your list. How many times have you gone to the grocery store for milk and eggs and ended up at the register having spent $100? Before you go to the store, make a list and then only purchase those items.
- Pay cash. For the next thirty days, only purchase items you need with the cash in your wallet. Resist the credit cards and only spend the money you have available today. Often we rely on those credit cards for gas or quick trips to the drug store, and then before we know it, we’ve spent more than our budget will allow.
- Use the same debit card for all your family purchases. This is a great way to only spend the cash in your account and also will help reconcile your purchases at the end of the month.
- Speaking of reconciling your spending, consider making a record of all your purchases at the end of each day. This will help you keep track where your money is going. Often we come to the end of the month or even a single week and wonder where our money has gone. Keeping an on-going list of your daily purchases will help you answer that question.
- If you know you need that latest nail polish or fast food meal then make sure to put it in your budget.
- If you are able to follow this plan, you will be surprised how much money you can actually save. We recommend that you reward yourself in two ways:
- – Start saving money for your kids’ college fund, or your next home, or a long-term need, and
- – Spend some of that money on something that you really enjoy instead of a Twinkie.
If you are a techie, you might like this idea from Money magazine:
Use a Smart Phone app. Maybe you already use a digital budgeting tool on your computer such as Mint or You Need a Budget. But if you don’t, using a smartphone app to keep track of your budget goals can help you maintain awareness of your spending in real time. Mint, Expensify and ReadyForZero are a few easy-to-use apps that can help you monitor your budget with just a few easy taps.
Staying on a budget requires attention to detail and a little sacrifice. Until that time when being aware of your spending becomes a habit, it is best to be hyper-critical about every penny you spend. There is a reason that Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying:
Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.
Circling back to the Twinkie, Weight Watchers offers a Smart Phone app called ITrackBites because they recommend that if you “bite it, you track it.” If each bite matters for weight management, shouldn’t each penny spent count as well?
Need help? Give us a call. We are here for you.
Southern Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney law firm Bankruptcy Advocates is located in Carbondale and serves a wide geographic community. The first consultation is always free. Give us a call at 618-549-9800 or email us at [email protected] to speak about your case or legal matter. Convenient appointment times are available.