Tip #19: Budget

For many years I had no concept of budgeting. I lived from pay check to paycheck and the rest was made up by credit cards and school loans… During the one month I was engaged, I am glad my husband showed grace on my financial situation.

*Insert important message to all the single ladies – BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR MONEY NOW!!! Learn how to budget, spend wisely and get out of debt so you do not have to worry about your debt when you get married:)

So, for you gals out there who have a hard time figuring out how to set a budget, stay on a budget or cut your budget – it’s time to get it in gear. I must admit, my husband and I are constantly changing up the way we do our finances. We have tried everything from putting cash in envelopes and keeping all our spending money in the freezer to only writing/mailing checks. We are still trying to figure out what works best for our family. So, before you think I am the finance queen, know that I am not! But if you would like to bounce ideas around or talk through some budget stuff, I love brainstorming. But, you need to figure out what works best for your family!

1. If you go over your budget the first month, don’t stop. Find what went wrong and fix it. You always spend more on food than you think:) But you don’t have to spend more than you need to!!

2. Try online banking. You can set up paying your bills from your bank online.

3. Call around and arrange your bills to start at the beginning of the month instead of the middle or end. Many businesses are happy to adjust your payment due date easily. If you pay all your bills at the beginning of the month, you know what you have to live on the rest of the month.

4. MINT.com!!! THIS IS THE BEST FREE PROGRAM ONLINE!!! Basically it links to your online banking and allows you to see exactly where your money is going. You can set up specific budgets, receive emails when you go over budget and much more. MINT.com also provides graphs and pie charts so you can easily see where your money is going. (Some of you are suckers for graphs!)

5. Look into tax breaks and ways to save money through the government. For instance in 2010, the government offered a 30% tax credit up to $1500 if you added any environmental energy saving improvements to your home. We bought a new wood-burning stove, so we are eligible for the tax credit! A friend of ours installed all new windows and received the same tax credit.

6. There are all kinds of programs, resources, blogs and books that will help put you on the road to being debt free. If you feel like sharing, add a comment and let others know some of the resources you have used to help get financially organized.

7. If you fail one month, readjust and try again! Don’t give up. Balancing a budget is an ongoing process and takes tons of practice.

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