Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For those of you who have ever tried to lose weight (and assuming that most of you have at least read articles about losing weight), you're probably familiar with the concept of writing down everything you eat. This tactic has proves time and time again to aid the individual in lsoing weight, the underlying principle being that you think twice about what you eat if you have to write it down. I found the same goes for trimming down your budget.

In May I began to not only live by a budget, but to also record everything I spent within the same budget to see what the delta would be in my proposed spending vs. actual spending. My first month I proposed a $2,3000 monthly budget. This budget included all the mandatory bills and entertainment, books, clothes, shoes and so forth. What did I clock in at? $2,600. The great thing about having tracked this? I not only saw that I went over my budget, I knew what it was exactly that tipped me over (the answer is spa treatments). So in June, I kept at it, then July and now into August. After looking at the three months of data I have compiled, I've managed to shave my monthly budget down to $1,800. That's nearly a 70% decrease!

In getting my monthly expenditures within reason, I did make some cuts along the way. I reduced my cable/internet bill by getting rid of cable completely, I haven't been to the spa in a few months and new clothes have become a thing of the past. But what did I find? I found more money to finally pursue cake decorating and yoga, more time to spend reading and satisfaction knowing that I can treat myself to a spa indulgence without feeling guilty. I found that writing down everything you spend works quite similar to writing down what you eat. Several times I found myself tempted to plop down forty bucks for some shoes but when I realized I'd have to be writing that amount down and subtracting from my monthly budget....well that urge sort of fell by the wayside.

Although constructing a budget is the first step in living within your means, it is only of great use when you apply it to your everyday spending habits, particularly in the beginning stages.


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