I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.
Money. You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it. No matter how hard you try, there’s never enough. The only thing increasing in your bank account is your debt, and you’re beyond understanding how to make ends meet. Is that how you feel?
Well, there’s no need. Getting on an even footing with finances is hard, but not impossible, when you take small steps. You didn’t get there overnight; you won’t get out of it overnight. It doesn’t have to be painful – in fact, you’ll be more successful if you make a game of it.
Here’s how to get started: figure out, approximately, how much you spend in a week on “incidentals” – coffee, a magazine, new cosmetics, etc. Just keep your sales slips for in your purse and add them up at the end of the week. This is not grocery money, car payments, etc.; this is just incidentals – things that you can live without if you’re desperate!
When you have that amount – say it’s $30.00 – take that much out of the bank the following week, and see how much you can have left over at the end of the week. Use ONLY CASH on those incidentals. Whatever is left over goes in an envelope somewhere where you won’t spend it.
After a month, see how much you have in your envelope. If it’s $20.00, that’s yours to spend on yourself as a reward.
Now, take that amount ($20.00), divide it by four ($5.00), and subtract that amount from what you’ve been spending weekly ($30.00-$5.00= $25.00). Now, start again with the reduced amount.
Once you’ve gotten to the place where this is getting really uncomfortable, stop, move back to the lowest comfortable figure and stick with that budget. Take half of what’s left over from your original spending total (in this case, $30.00/2=$15.00), and apply that to your debt each and every month like clockwork – make it an automatic payment from your account every month – even if it’s just two dollars. The rest (in this case the other $15.00) goes in a savings account – also paid automatically. You can then apply the same principle to groceries, or gas, or any other expense that is variable and see how far you can comfortably cut back.
This enables you to save without that “scarcity” mentality that makes you poor in the first place. Because it’s a game and because you’re trying to see how much you have left over at the end of the month your mindset is not “I can’t afford that” (scarcity) but it’s now “I could buy that, but I’d rather see how much I can save!” (abundance).
There are great resources out there to help you move even farther ahead. Wonderful programs like “Mvelopes” or Mary Hunt’s “Debt-Proof Living” e-zine. The trick, however, is to always start small, and move forward slowly, building habits as you go.