Many people understand the need to have a household budget. I tell my clients that running your household is similar to running a business. Start with an assessment of your current spending habits. By doing so you will identify areas in which you overspend or make wasteful decisions.
Here are some ways to spot your potential spending problems:
1) You have clothes in your closet that still have tags on them.
2) You have clothes, toys, tools, or other merchandise sitting on your countertop or in the trunk of your car that need to be returned to the store.
3) You throw away large amounts of leftovers or out-of-date food.
4) You spend more than $350 per person on groceries every month. This is an area that can result in significant savings but it involves a real-time commitment such as meal planning, coupon cutting or scouring ads in order to finding the best deals.
5) You eat out almost daily but still buy large amounts of groceries. Remember, stopping for coffee once a day adds up quickly – $2 X 5 days a week X 52 weeks a year is $520 minimum!
6) You have no idea how much you spend on personal items (such as hair, nails, or other pampering), entertainment, or home improvements. When working through budgets with my clients they are always surprised at how high these numbers can be.
7) Gas costs how much a gallon this week?! Make a weekly list of the errands you run and think about where they are. Planning your errands in a way that you do not drive back and forth across town can save you money immediately.
8) You do not create a budget category for special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, or other holidays.
9) You do not know how much you need to save on a monthly basis to reach the goals you have for retirement.
10) You have money left over in your checking account at the end of the month after the bills are paid so you assume you are okay.
This is not by any means a complete list, but it gives you some food for thought and is a good place to start. Ask yourself the next time you are pulling clothes off the rack or purchasing another trinket, “Do I really need this? How will this item add value to my life? Could I buy it somewhere else at a lesser price? Do I need it now, or could I wait?” Not that I recommend having an out loud conversation with yourself in the store in front of the other shoppers; just become aware of your spending habits and potential spending problems and you may find yourself making decisions that will have a positive impact on your household budget.
Contributed by Patti McTier, Finance Advisor
Patti McTier is a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of Equity Services Inc. and offers securities in Georgia. To learn more visit www.nationalfinancialservicesgroup.com
Reprinted with Permission