Living on a Budget

In today’s world it seems like many people do not know how to manage their personal finances. Creating and living on a budget is like a foreign concept. Several of the people I work with are constantly stressed about money, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and say “I don’t know where all my money goes.” In an earlier post I mentioned that I read most Americans do not have enough savings to cover an emergency.

According to CNBC, 60% of Americans could not pay an unexpected expense of $1,000 or more (Nova, 2019). This seems like a stressful way to live, especially when a little bit financial education and budgeting can help create a cushion for a rainy day. Even better we can learn to plan for the fun things we want to do and not go in debt to do these fun things.

For many years I have helped people create budgets and learn where they spend their money, i.e. where does it all go. The point of creating a budget is not to judge, but to be mindful about how we spend. If a person wants to go out to lunch every day and they can afford it, I say do it, just budget it. But lets take eating out for lunch every day as an example. Do you really know how much you spend on this each month? On person I recently helped did not realize they spent an average of $220 a month on lunch.

When I asked the person how much they spend on food each month the answer was “I don’t know, like $300 max.” Really, does this include groceries at the house, going out to dinner, going out to lunch? This gave the person a pause. Then she said “I guess I don’t know what I spend.” With this statement I knew the person was starting to be honest with themselves. Now it was time to do the hard work and create a budget.

In reality creating a budget is the easy part; living with it is the hard part. So here are some basic tips for today if anyone out there is looking to get control of their money. First, look at everything you spend, even the small things that do not cost a lot. These little things are like death by a thousand cuts for your budget. Second, think about your money goals. Are you happy with where are with money or do you have a goal that you want to reach? Third, decide what you must spend and what can be optional.

Before we go let me give a personal example, I must pay rent, I really like my online computer game, but I could spend less on clothing. I have plenty of cloths so spend mindfully I need to stop and think…do I really need another sweater?

Well that’s all for today. More to follow on being mindful with money and learning how to manage a personal budget.

Reference:

Nova, A. (2019, January 23). A $1,000 emergency would push many Americans into debt. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/most-americans-dont-have-the-savings-to-cover-a-1000-emergency.html

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