Business & Finance Finance

Successfully Living on a Budget

Living beyond financial means and incurring large amounts of consumer debt are increasing among individuals and families. Whether your income is large or small, creating a budget and adhering to it, will allow you to avoid debt and make better choices about needs and wants. When you create a family budget it is not so much the size of your income that determines success, but the way it is spent. The first step is to identify payments and bills and start to allocate your monthly income accordingly. Make categories for each item such as; rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities, food, household items, entertainment, vacation, household repairs, personal spending, savings.

Budgets can be customized to fit individual and family means, as well as needs and wants. As it is identified where money is being spent, evaluating purchases and what can be cut, changed or eliminated will allow for more conscience and effective spending. Many people do not realize how much they spend on eating out, unnecessary household items or clothes. The money is gone and they can't account for where it went. This is not only damaging financially by spending more than one has, but it is less fulfilling because it is thoughtless purchasing. For many, immediate gratification in purchasing has led to a plague of debt and bankruptcy. Avoid the trap of interest and wastefulness by making clear decisions about money. Here are some suggestions to help make a successful budget.

Counsel with partner/family on a regular basis about spending
Regular communication and goal setting allows for financial success because all parties are on the same page and work together to make decisions for the family. By talking about goals it identifies concretely what the needs and wants are for the home and family and helps eliminate the power that impulse can have when shopping. Make decisions together including gifts, eating out, home improvements and personal spending amounts. Setting a limited amount allocated for each person to do with what they want without reporting gives freedom of choice, but controlled. Depending on your financial status that amount will vary and could be as little as $50 a month. It is important to keep it within an amount that can be afforded.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without
It seems as though the more people have, the more they want. Just getting more money is not the solution for most financial struggles. Learning to evaluate needs and what can last and what needs to be replaced is the first step to putting money in the best places and making what ever your income is, be enough. Although it is tempting to "keep up with the Jones' " comparing possessions to others and trying to have what they do will not allow for a successful budget. If items are bought on borrowed money then possessions are not a true reflection of finances anyway. Making due with what one already has will eliminate a lot of unnecessary spending and free up money for more wise purchases.

Give thought to purchases
Planning for purchases and saving before something is bought will prevent unnecessary debt and the consequences associated with it. Mindless spending has as negative of impact on the household as mindless eating does for the body. You end up with more than you need in the wrong places. Plan for what you want by making a list of most important or most desired to least important. Identifying your needs and wants will give focus and direction for spending and help prevent impulse buying. Shop around and see what is out there, what the going rate is for an item, and what a good deal would be. Watch for sales and coupons to make the best purchase.

Include savings in a budget
Living within financial means is not living on the maximum made, but planning for a rainy day. Because unexpected events can and do happen planning for such situations will prevent the debt that would have to be incurred to pay for them. The more a person saves, the better, set aside as much as possible in this area for security and protection. Regret of purchasing is much for common than regret of not purchasing.

Creating a budget will reduce financial stress. Making conscience spending choices, well thought out and followed through with will create financial freedom and power for individuals and families. Wise choices will increase the quality of life, even if the quantity of possessions is not, and greater peace of mind will be found, and that is success.

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