Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Keeping A Check On Finances Makes For Happier Relationships

It is a fact that financial difficulties and incompatibility in money matters are one of the leading causes for divorce, and the breakup of many families.  Even for those of us who are single, it's an acute cause of stress.

At this particular time of the year, many of us are smarting because it's time to pay the piper for our holiday spending. In addition, we are receiving the inevitable notices of increases in fees for everything from electricity to insurances and homeowners taxes.   It's a great time to grab the bull by the horns and get serious about your budget.

There is help available for this on the internet, and the office supply stores sell many different versions of budgeting books you can buy.  If you want to be thrifty like my mom, design your own sheets and make a year’s worth of copies to keep in a folder.

Total the amounts you paid out for last year’s bills in every category (including annual or bi-annual bills, such as the various insurances, taxes, co-payments to doctors and dentists, estimated car repairs, etc.), divide them by twelve, and the resulting sum will be the amount you have to save each month in order to have the funds available when those items come due.

It is a good idea to deposit that money in a savings account. As you save each month the sum will grow and leaving it in the checking account may tempt you to believe that you have more spendable income then you really do.

I think it may be a good idea to repeat my advice from a previous post on traversing the slippery slope of frequent credit card use, for those who may have missed that column.

Many people use their credit cards for almost all financial transaction because they don't like to carry a checkbook (my husband) or they like receiving those bonus points periodically, for a free shopping trip (like me).

Whatever the reason, you may also be among those who hold their breath, or even wait a few days, before opening the bill with the final tally.

If you have ever heard yourself exclaim any of the following...

Holy s--t! There must be some mistake here.

How did this get away from me again?

How can I keep this from Bill (or Elaine)?

...then you know that overcharging is easy and causes some serious stress. And if you have had enough of it, here is an excellent motivational tool to finally put an end to it:

On a simple notepad, write down the amount of every charge on the same day that you make it. Keep a running subtotal for the entire month. (Make sure you subtotal each new charge, that is the main point here!) Now, whenever you go out the door to go shopping you will know exactly how much you have left to spend on necessities (groceries and gas), and after the final total you will know what's left for the little splurges we all like to treat ourselves to.

Do not trust yourself to keep your totals in your head without writing it down! Memory is a tricky thing, and easily influenced by a strong desire for some tempting purchase. It is easy to fool yourself into thinking you have got more money to spend than you do

So, to stop the stress, write it down, check it and keep it honest!

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