|S. L. Simmons is a thrifty mom of two.
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articles on on creating a home budget, saving money on groceries, frugal living
tips and a free budget worksheet.
Do you frequently get cash from ATMs and then
have no idea where it all goes? Do you end up paying late fees simply because you
don't have a good system in place for tracking and paying your bills? If you
don't have a good budget system in place, it is easy to lose track of your hard-earned money. The tips below can help you keep your finances under control.
1. Keep your financial records organized and
your filing up to date.
Have a set of file folders for items such as receipts, bills, canceled checks,
checking account statements, etc. Have a designated place where you keep or can
easily assemble your master home budget, your financial files, checkbook, etc.
so it is all in one convenient location.
2. Avoid spending cash, unless you are good at
writing down cash expenses in a journal.
It is all too easy to get $100 from the ATM and then have no idea where it all
went at the end of the week. If you have trouble figuring out where your cash
gets spent, keep a small amount of cash on hand for minor purchases. For
everything else, try to pay by either a paper check, online checking or through
credit cards so you have a record of your purchases. Credit cards are a good way
to track purchases unless you have trouble controlling your spending. If this
applies to you, then avoid credit card purchases and focus on keeping track of
your expenses in a journal or by paying for items by check.
3. Give your children a set allowance for
things like movies, CDs, snacks and toys instead of just giving them money on an as
Giving children an allowance teaches them to make wise spending choices at an
early age. A twelve year old who spends all of his allowance right away on CDs
and then doesn't have enough money to go to the movies with his friends on the
weekend has just learned a good lesson on the negative consequences of impulse
4. Have a system in place for handling the
If you are not in the habit of misplacing bills or checks, good for you.
Keep on using whatever system you have in place now. However, if losing track of
bills is an issue at your house, it may help to have a designated mail drop box
inside the house. Each family member should be instructed that whoever brings in
the mail that day should always put the mail in the designated mail box for
later sorting. Then the family member who has responsibility for sorting the
mail should do so near the financial folders. That way checks get put right away
in the check folder, bills in the bill folder, etc.
5. Avoid going to stores where you have had
problems overspending in the past.
Our neighbors stopped shopping at warehouse clubs and actually ended up saving
money. They found they spent more money by not being able to resist all of the
warehouse club bargains on products they really didn't need than they would by
just getting their food at the local grocery store.
6. Have written, long term savings goals.
Some sample goals might be getting out of debt, saving for college, or building
a retirement fund. It helps to avoid spending money on day-to-day purchases if
you have financial goals and reasons to save money in mind. Not having any
compelling reasons to save, makes it easier to fritter away money on small day-to-day purchases instead of saving for the long term.
7. Have a set time each week to review and pay
If you have the money to pay your bills, there is no point in getting unneeded
late fees due to disorganization or lost bills. If you take home $15 an hour
after taxes, then to make up for just one $30 late fee, you would have to work an
extra two hours to cover the fee.
Getting organized is one of the first steps to
getting your budget under control. Avoiding unnecessary late fees, paying bills
on time, and having a good system in place for filing and paying your bills can
all help to keep your household budget on the right track.