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Tuesday, May 18, 2021   

I Wasn't Paying Attention: Where Does My Money Go and How Can I Get Some Back?
by Janet Hall
Janet L. Hall is a professional organizer, speaker, author, and trainer. Janet has been sharing her organizing tips and skills for the office, home, and computer with individuals and groups worldwideóthanks to her teleclasses and the internetósince 1996. You can learn more about Janet by visiting her web site at http://www.overhall.com
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Janet Hall

Tracking, planning, and "overhalling" your hard earned money can help you reach any financial goals that you have, help you in getting out of debt, and help you gain back control of your money, your future, and your life.

Dawn Rivers Baker of WAHM & Mompreneur has a great series,  Financial Management 101 in which she writes, "Managing cash flow is the simple matter of projecting cash receipts and needed cash outlays within a certain period of time - a week, a month, a quarter, a year - ..."

Good cash management consists very basically of three things: knowing when you need money, knowing where that money is going to come from, and knowing where you can get money from if you fall short. With good cash management, you may find yourself with a bit of money left over when you have paid your bills.

Listed below are the percentages (based on net spendable income, after tithing and taxes), according to Larry Burkett, that you should ONLY be spending in each category of your budget:

Housing - 38%
Food - 12% 
Automobile(s) - 15% 
Insurance - 5% 
Debts - 5% 
Entertainment & Recreation - 5% 
Clothing - 5% 
Savings - 5% 
Medical Expenses - 5% 
Miscellaneous - 5% 
To meet the 8% that you should allocate for school/child care, if needed, you will have to make adjustments of the above categories by an equal amount.

To have a true sense of where you're spending your money daily, keep a daily expense log for at least one month. Enter in everything that you purchase DAILY! Even that .25 cent pack of gum or mints. Get a little notebook that you keep with you and just do IT! This will allow you to see where you can cut back and/or start saving.

For instance, if you buy a newspaper everyday at .50 cents a pop, and $1 for the Sunday paper, you've just spent $208 for a year of reading what? DO you read the whole paper or just the home or sports section?

If you read the paper at home, does it start to pile up causing more clutter and more of your time to dispose of it?

Where else can you get this SAME information? Maybe on the Internet (if you're reading this, you are probably already paying for Internet service). At the library? Can you read your co-workers? Do you also watch the television news?

How important is it for you to read the newspaper everyday and see $208 go out of YOUR pocket every year?

How much bad news do you really want to read and listen to everyday? Be selective! Remember how much your time is worth!

This and your other daily habits are what I want you to take a STRONG look at and see what you can OverHall and Balance, see what you are willing to give up, what you don't really need, or what costly habit you can change or cut back.

As Deborah Fowles, financial writer of about.com, stated in her article Financial Planning. "To those of you who think you know where your money goes without keeping detailed records, I issue this challenge: keep track of every cent you spend for one month. I promise you'll be surprised and perhaps shocked by how much some of your 'small' expenditures add up to."

You might think all of this is too much work, am I right? Well let me ask you, how much work will it be or take when you are retired and have no savings, no investments, no assets, no money, no NOTHING because you didn't control your cash flow?

If you're already retired, how hard might you be struggling because you aren't paying attention to your money?

Dr. Lair Ribeiro, author of Success Is No ACCIDENT wrote, "If you go on doing what you've always done, you'll go on getting what you've always got."

STOP procrastinating! Get your priorities in line! Get focused! OverHall your cash flow so you can stop worrying about money, stop living from pay check to pay check, stop being late on your bills. Work on balancing your cash flow so you won't have problems or troubles NOW or in your later years. TIP: The best time to work on this is when you are paying your bills.

Business Owners: The Small Business Development Center in your neighborhood will be happy to help you for FREE with your business cash flow!

Hopefully, after keeping a daily or monthly log of expenditures, youíve begun to notice your pattern of spending habits. You should be able to see where all your money is going and not just wondering. You should now be able to look at what you can cut out or cut back on.

Why do you need to do this "OverHall"?

Several good reasons could be if youíre having troubles making ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck, or donít have any money in reserve for unexpected emergencies. Other reasons could be that you want to buy a home, take a vacation, buy new equipment for your business, go to college or send your children to college. Still other reasons could be that you're self-employed and you need to save or invest for your retirement.

Letís get started by making two lists, one for your NEEDS and one for your WANTS.

Whatís the difference?

Let me give you an example of how I see NEEDS vs. WANTS. A NEED is something that you NEED to survive such as food, shelter, and clothing.

A WANT is something you desire. Something that you might already own, but you WANT another or a new one such as shoes, or a jacket, or a car. A WANT can also be something that you donít currently have. As humans, we all have unlimited wants, therefore we must make choices. In economics this is referred to as "opportunity cost", the highest-valued, next-best alternative that must be sacrificed to attain something or to satisfy a want. Some refer to this as a trade off.

Now you need to ask yourself how much you are willing to spend or need to spend on your needs to survive and are you spending too much? Do your clothes have to be new, with big name labels? Does your home have to be near the water with a hot tub and a swimming pool? Does your food have to be the best cut of meat or dining at fancy restaurants every night? You get the idea?

What about your WANTS? What are you willing to trade off to make your WANTS a reality?

Letís look for a minute of a WANT of a vacation to Alaska. You will need to take some actions and ask yourself, possibly, some hard questions, and make some hard decisions.

Do you have to save for this and how will you save?
What steps must you take to estimate the cost of such a vacation AND what steps will or can you take to save for the trip?
How long do you want to vacation?
How will you travel and what are those costs? Planes, Trains, Automobiles? Hike, Bike, Cruise ship?
Where will you stay and what are those costs? Hotel, Motel, Inn? B&B, Igloo, Tent? Friend, Relative, Friend of a Friend?
How will you eat and what are those costs? Bring or buy food there? Eat out? Skip some meals?
Do you need to purchase "special" clothes? Where can you purchase them? How much will that cost?
When do you want to vacation in Alaska? Now, next year, five years, or ten years?

Once you find the estimated answers to those questions youíll need to look at how much you need to save and where in your daily expenses can you cut back.

TIP: Use this type of exercise for any wants you have for your life and business.

Youíll discover if you can really turn your wants into reality, if they are realistic and feasible.

Top 10 Tips for "OverHalling" Your Purchases

1) Plan, plan, plan ahead.
2) Donít pay retail prices.
3) Shop at thrift stores, consignment shops, secondhand boutiques, warehouses, or in the slightly damaged department.
4) Get in a co-op or collectively buy with others.
5) Donít shop with your emotions, use your conscience when shopping.
6) Rent big ticket items when possible (for instance, if you need to fold 10,000 documents on a quarterly basis or use a saw-zall once a year).
7) Use the library.
8) Barter.
9) Comparison-shop for EVERYTHING!
10) Donít buy because itís on sale or because you have a coupon.

Letís look at some items or habits you can stop this month in order to start saving (Use your items and figures that you had logged into you daily expenditures).

$208/yr Ė newspaper
$72/yr Ė 1 movie a month at $6
$720/yr Ė 20 breakfast drinks a month at $4
$48/yr Ė 1 magazine at $4 a month

In ten years that would be $10,480!

Now, think a minute, what can you do with that $1,048 extra a year or that $10,480 in ten years?

Get a big jar; water bottle, tin can, piggy bank, or something to start throwing your MONEY into (donít forget a container for your car). If you pay cash for a daily newspaper, throw your paper cost DAILY into your container. If you pay monthly, write yourself a check for that cost.

Start a new habit by being selective on what you NEED to read and see if you can read it on the Internet or at the library. Can you hear about it on the TV news? Better yet, try a life change and STOP reading or listening to the news and start making your own "news" to share with relatives and friends.

When you go to rent a movie, STOP, and throw that money into your container. See if the movie is at the library, if a friend has it to borrow, or wait for it to come out on regular TV.

Start making your "special drink" at home in the morning. You are now able to ENJOY your "special drink" because now you have more time because; you donít have to drive to the "special drink" place, get out of your car, stand in a long line, wait for your order to be prepared, and guzzle down your "special drink" while sprinting off, racing off, or dashing down the street to wherever you might be headed! NOW you can relax and throw your $4, your stress, problems, and concerns into your container and REALLY ENJOY your "special drink". (Whew, didnít mean to get off on a rant).

That magazine that comes monthly, that you never have time to read, and is piling up on the table or floor; stop it from coming into your home or office and write yourself a check at renewal time! If you think you canít live without it, see if a friend gets it and ask to borrow. See if itís on the Internet or at the library.

Iím not trying to tell you to be a penny pincher or a miser. I just want you to REALLY look at where your money is going. Stop, think, and look at how you can "OverHall" your daily expenditures so you can get some of your hard earned money back and bring a sense of financial BALANCE back into your life.

If you find you are spending money on something that TRULY brings happiness, pleasure, comfort, and BALANCE into your life, then donít give it up. Although you might consider cutting back on that item.



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