Monday, May 30, 2011

Budget Band Aids You Can Use Today

I was shocked when I really sat down and looked at my monthly expenses. I knew I was spending more money than I planned to spend, but had no idea how much more I spent. I really needed some help to manage my finances.

What helped me were actually some tools like the free budget calculator. I estmated my expenses, one by one with the help of this online tool. I only spent a few minutes entering estimates into the online form. Even though I just guessed at some of the numbers, it helped me because it allowed me to visualize where my money was going. Once I could see it, I could find ways to stop the problems.

People who experience budget problems understand that it starts to lead to other problems. If you have trouble sticking to a budget, you may start charging some routine things. Your credit card balances can start to rise, and then you will have to make more payments on those. You may find yourself in a really tough situation when you start charging normal things like groceries or gasoline. You know you have a problem when you have to finance your power bill or food with a credit card.

So, you have two solutions. You can either cut your expenses or make more money. It may be a lot easier to find some simple ways to cut your costs than it is to find a new job with a bigger payday.

A budget worksheet or calculator can really help because it shows you how much you spend in a variety of categories. Sometimes that is enough to get you to spot the problem so you can begin to deal with it.

It may be a simple matter of replacing meals out with dinner at home a few more times a month. If you spend $50 when you take your family out for dinner, and you do that three times a week, that adds up to $600 a month! You may be able to replace one of those nights out for dinner at home and shave a couple of hundred dollars from your monthly expenses.

Sometimes, you can save a lot of money by just planning your shopping. The corner market may charge a lot more money for the convenience of having a store in the neighborhood. Try to stock up on things you always use and need when you make your routine trips to the discount or warehouse store. You might save 50% on many items over buying them at a higher priced grocery or convenience store. When I started working harder to plan my shopping lists better, I started saving almost $200 every month.

Some items and services may just be overpriced. If you have a fixed monthly bill, like car insurance, take a little time to shop around for the best deals. If you pay $200 a month for your family auto policies, even a 20% savings will save you almost $500 a year!

Approach your budget shaving measures like an adventure and a game. It can be fun to see how frugal you can be without really giving up anything. Personally, a visual calculator or worksheet helps me because it allows me to see my expenses broken out by categories!

About the Author: Marilyn Katz
In addition to the budget calculator, we have dozens of free money calculators you can use to answer financial questions.

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