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Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to Budget When You're Running Out of Money

By Jesse Mecham

I was speaking with my mother-in-law the other day and she mentioned that she doesn't budget because she knows she'll be in the red. She was basically implying that it wouldn't do any good.

A mindset like this terribly prevalent. I suppose that's a valid concern. Why would you budget when there isn't enough money? Read further to find out exactly why.

Despite the fact that the bills are sky-high and your available funds are low -- when you'll take the time to consciously look at those available funds and make the decision BEFOREHAND about what your money should be doing. Do NOT throw in the towel on this! Take a hard look at your money and give it focus: clothes, food, electricity, miscellaneous, etc. This exercise is vitally important.

In the situation where there truly isn't enough money, you'll still be rattling off obligations and the money will have dried up. That doesn't mean the work done didn't produce any fruit! When you set priorities to your money, you're maximizing exactly what it will be doing and your dollars will stretch further. That's key in starting and learning how to budget.

The second step is to be certain you're recording every single penny that you spend. Realize that even if you're spending and driving a deficit, the task of recording your spending MANUALLY will mitigate the deficit-spending as much as possible. Your total deficit will be much lower as a result and you'll be in a better position than had you not done it at all.

Manually recording what you spend helps reinforce awareness, and reconnects you psychologically back to your money. In this day and age, marketers, banks, and card processors want us to spend and spend without regard for our personal financial situation. This is no way to budget or manage your money! The exercise of recording your spending will make you (painfully) aware of where you should cut back.

So remember, looking toward the future and then writing down what's happening currently will help you budget in any circumstance. You'll keep the pain to a minimum and will buy yourself more time to execute a longer-term plan to get you operating in the black on a consistent basis.

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