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Working to a budget

Updated on January 5, 2012

Fiddling the finances

 Since you’ve just cleaned out your closet, part of getting your life back on track after a break-up is sorting out your finances.  Many of us spend way too much and acquire debt like Paris Hilton acquires designer sunglasses.  Continually getting into debt and abusing your credit card is actually an addictive disorder called Compulsive Debting.  Debt affects all aspects of your life and causes you undue stress.  So if you are sinking in a quagmire of debt, how do you get yourself out? 

First of all you have to acknowledge your debt.  The days of throwing all the bills in the air and only paying the ones that stick to the ceiling are over.  You have to sit yourself down and admit that debt-wise you are in way over your head.  The next thing you have to do, is put all your bills in a nice neat pile and add them all up.  Many of us prefer to not know how much we owe in total, but if you are wanting to get out of the debt trap you need to have a clear idea of the extent of the debt.  Once you have the total, work out your monthly payments and then subtract the monthly payments from your monthly income.  Not looking pretty, is it?

The majority of us don’t plan how we spend our money.  It comes in and then it goes out.  Lack of planning causes debt problems as our lack of willpower in our spending is allowed to roam free.  Budgeting might sound like something only accountants do, and others might think it sounds a little boring, but budgeting is essential.  Get yourself a journal where you can keep good accounts for yourself.  Write down your monthly income after tax.  Then list the monthly payments which are essential, in other words, the things you need in order to survive.  The Gucci handbag you saw at that shop in the mall is not essential for your survival.  Subtract your essential monthly payments from your monthly income, and what is left is what you have to play around with.

Before you go out on a shopping spree with what is left, you need to allocate the money to non-essentials.  Allow a fixed amount for entertainment.  Everybody needs to treat themselves after a hard month of labour and denying yourself entertainment will have an adverse effect on your budget, as you’ll start taking money from essential items to spend on entertainment.  Be realistic, allow for entertainment.  Even if you only save $20 a month, you are developing the saving habit, so allocate some money for saving.  Keep some money for emergencies in a slush fund and choose one debt that you’ll pay a little extra off each month.  Monitor your actual spending next to your budget, so you can make adjustments the next month if necessary.

If you are struggling to pay off creditors, you need to talk to them and discuss your situation with them.  Just keeping silent is taken as a sign of you being unwilling to pay.  If you communicate your dire circumstances with them, most will work out a special payment plan for you.  You need to prioritise your debts and try and pay your high-interest ones off first.  Don’t take on any new debts while you are trying to pay off existing ones.  Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul is going to send you up shit creek without a paddle very quickly.

Tightening-up tips

With all these financial crises hitting us it might be a good idea to look at ways to cut down on our spending.

·         Don’t give up on eating out, but choose to eat out at breakfast instead of dinner as breakfasts are much cheaper.

·         Don’t go to beauty salons for beauty treatment, buy the do-it-yourself kits from the supermarket and treat yourself in the comfort of your own home.  You can even turn it into a fun day, invite over some girl friends and you can wax each other’s legs.  What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

·         Don’t buy take-away for lunch at work, rather invest in some small plastic containers and take left-overs from the night before or make your own sandwiches.

·         Don’t drive in to work alone, put an ad in the paper looking for someone to carpool with you, or ask around at work if someone lives in your area.

·         Don’t spend your hard-earned cash buying friends birthday gifts, rather bake some cookies and package them nicely with a big ribbon.

·         Don’t drive just because you have a car when you can walk.

·         Don’t text message all your friends just because you are bored or lonely.  Only message them when you have a good reason to.

·         Don’t draw small amounts from ATMs as you pay for each withdrawal and the bank charges add up.  It’s how the banks make their money.

·         Don’t speed when you know there are speed cameras.  In fact, just don’t speed, period.  Speeding fines are a waste of money.

·         Don’t spend every weekend clubbing, try and limit yourself to once a month.



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    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      Rachel goodness knows we all have to tighten our belts these days!

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 6 years ago from California

      I love your tightening up tips! Yes..good advice. :)

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      I'm glad you found the article useful, Taleb!

    • Taleb80 profile image

      Taleb AlDris 6 years ago

      I agree with you, it is up to us.

      Thanks for helpful tips.

      I voted useful.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      Kari, enjoy the extra money, don't sign yourself up for more debt for a while! Being debtless is liberating!

    • profile image

      Kari_24 6 years ago

      Great Hub! I've been working on paying off my car and I'm getting so close I can taste it! I can't wait to have some extra money :)

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Peter, are you still in Thailand? My eldest daughter has just moved there.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Having nothing other than what I can carry on my back I reckon I abide by nearly all your tips and then some. Still owe money unfortunately. Can't escape the stuff. Wise advice though. Good hub. Thank you.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      Novascotiamiss you are so tight! People should stop applying for more credit cards when they max out the one they hAve!

      Paradise, I reckon that the Chinese fake Gucci stores are making a fortune.

      Khauler, most of us already know this stuff, just don't practise it.

      Yongat, we need to get used to saving, even if it is just a few dollars, it's all about developing the habit.

    • yongat profile image

      yongat 6 years ago

      Excellent points. How much we can save is not only the matter of how much we can earn, but the most important is how much we spend and how to spend it wisely. Thanks for sharing.

    • khauler profile image

      khauler 6 years ago

      very useful

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      We do have to behave more responsibly with our spending habits, here in America. All this impusle buys and wish fulfillment isn't really healthy. And now, most of us can't afford it anyway. Gucci must be hurting.

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 6 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Great hub. Totally agree with you. It's time people took responsability for their own financial mess rather than always blaming it on the greedy banks and other institutions. The point is, nobody is forcing you to buy anything on credit. If you can't afford it in cash, don't buy it on borrowed money. Limit yourself to 1 credit card only, this makes it much easier to see how much you are spending. When you buy anything on credit and you are not prepared to pay it off at the end of the month, add the interest to the price. Pretty scary? May be this will make you think. Also, don't rush into a purchase. Let the idea settle for a day and re-consider if you really need it.