Living a Better Life
Money Spending Danger Zone
This has been one of the busiest, most packed-full summers I've ever had in my life. Even though the school-year ended for 3 of our children in June, things didn't really start to slow down until sometime in July, and before we knew it, we were celebrating 3 more birthdays and getting ready for BACK to school all within a few weeks.
I'm sure many of you can relate, especially if you have young children still at home or are working two or more jobs. But I've learned several more things about money over the summer and I'd like to share one of them with you this month...
I guess you could call it a money spending danger zone.
While experiencing this in my own life over the summer, I realized that just as the way many people over-eat when they are stressed or tired, they (we) also tend to over-spend their budget.
I want you to think about this for a moment and see if it applies to you and/or your family members. Of course we know that everyone is different, and there are people who's spending is completely unaffected by stress, emotions and circumstances, just as their diet may remain unaffected as well. But for the rest of us dear emotional souls -- stress, emotions and exhaustion spells, among other things, money trouble.
What kind of money troubles am I talking about? Just to name a few -- eating out more often, buying groceries you don't really need, gifts you can't afford because you're too tired to make a special homemade one, spending $12 on a birthday cake from the bakery instead of a taking a couple hours to mix, bake and frost one from a $2 box.
(At least that's one area I've got under control, even during the most stressful 4-kids-birthdays in a row for our family! I even took a free online class in the Spring for basic cake decorating so I could make them LOOK like $12 cakes, and they just about do. By the way, did I mention our BABY just turned 3!)
These are just a FEW of the ways we can overspend our budget, and it happens so easily if we don't remain alert and focused on managing our money wisely, every month.
How about paying bills late, running up higher long distance phone calls, taking longer hot showers (which depending on your area, could be increasing your electric and water bills), and even splurging too much on entertainment costs because you're so stressed or tired, surely you 'deserve it.'
The Real Danger Zone - More importantly, when you're tired or stressed, you may lose proper perception of the difference between real needs and wants. A foundation of every good budget.
I wish we were in a room together so I could see your heads nodding in agreement and know for sure that I'm on to something here! But the main thing is, whatever the reasons we sometimes overspend might be, what do we do about it?
We can try to avoid stress and get more sleep, but especially for working moms with family to also care for at home, and for everyone - the anniversary of 9/11 - this won't be easy.
But the truth is, if you can just keep your bills and your BUDGET organized each month it will help tremendously!
Here's a few critical steps to follow...
* Have your budget in place and review it monthly for updates.
* Have a set day every week to pay the bills. Even if you don't have any bills that are due for a particular bill, you will continue to keep your budget in focus throughout the month.
* Make a grocery list each week and stick to it.
* Plan out your menus for the week and stretch the meals into two when you can, this will avoid those last minute runs for take-out.
* Take small breaks during the day just for you. Read a book!
* A 10-20 minute walk every morning or afternoon will not only keep you fit, but it will energize you and help you get through the rest of the day.
* Enlist family members to help around the house, make up a chore schedule if necessary.
* Make sure your budget includes money for lunches, groceries, gifts, vacations, everything you've spent money on in the past (as we've talked about many times here on the site). Discover how much is okay to spend, and how much is too much. If you spend on these items without a budget in place, especially when you're stressed and exhausted, you're very likely to spend... TOO MUCH.
* And, remember to pray for guidance every day. When you do that, all of the above will usually fall into place.
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Copyright © 2002 by Michelle Jones