If you are anything like millions of other people who make money, you may have a vision of those people who keep budgets as a different breed than yourself. There is an aura, and frankly, even something boring associated with talk of budgets and success at keeping them.
Fortunately, living on a budget can be second-nature and even enjoyable once you're set up to track your spending. Seeing what you have and what you pay out is a reality check, but closing your eyes to your debt doesn't make it go away: A budget can.
Numerous free budget outlines are on the Internet and in libraries. From simple one-page itemizations to multi-page bells-and-whistle spreadsheets, the options are innumerable. Spend some time finding a budget sheet or package that looks fun to you.
Guidelines from the experts can help in getting started; however, make adjustments up or down to fit your stage of life and personal goals. Recommendations aren't written in stone, but your budget should be. Plan for extras within the budget rather than outside of it, and once you have a budget, stay accountable to what you set for yourself. Make adjustments only for growing closer to a debt-free life.
More Great Links
- Associated Press. "How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?" MSNBC.com. March 15, 2009.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29681240/
- College Board. "Trends in Higher Education Series: Education Pays 2010." College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. Sept. 30, 2010. http://trends.collegeboard.org/
- CollegeScholarships.org. "The College Board Estimates that it Takes 11-13 Years for a College Degree to Pay Off." Sept. 27, 2010. http://www.collegescholarships.org/blog/2010/09/27/the-college-board-estimates-that-it-takes-11-to-13-years-for-a-college-degree-to-pay-off/
- DaveRamsey.com. "Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Plan." Aug. 1, 2009.http://www.daveramsey.com/article/get-out-of-debt-with-the-debt-snowball-plan/lifeandmoney_debt/
- Federal Reserve Board (FRB). "Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: Credit Card Repayment Calculator." April 21, 2009. http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditcardcalculator/
- Federal Reserve Board (FRB). "Federal Reserve Statistical Release G19: Consumer Credit." Sept. 8, 2010.http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/Current/
- Federal Trade Commission. "Knee Deep in Debt." Facts for Consumers. Dec. 2005.http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre19.shtm
- Hamilton, Anita. "The New Trend of Used Clothes." TIME. May 31, 2007. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1627026,00.html
- Jones, Daryl G. "Personal Savings Rate Worse than We Thought." Fortune Magazine. June 30, 2010.http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/30/news/economy/personal_savings_decline.fortune/index.htm
- Khan, Kim. "The Basics: How Does Your Debt Compare?" MSN Money. Sept. 30, 2010.http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/savinganddebt/p70581.asp
- Kiviat, Barbara. "The Case Against Homeownership." TIME. Sept. 11, 2010.http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2013684,00.html
- Martin, Andrew. "U.S. Reaches Deal in Credit-Card Antitrust Suit." The New York Times. Oct. 4, 2010.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/05/business/05card.html
- Rapacon, Stacy. "The Six Best Budgeting Sites." Kiplinger. March 2009.http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/2008/12/best-online-budgeting-sites.html
- Weston, Liz Pulliam. "The Basics: The Truth about Credit Card Debt." MSN Money.http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/banking/creditcardsmarts/p74808.asp
- U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. "Personal Saving Rate." Oct. 1, 2010.http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/PSAVERT.txt
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