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Archive for Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making a budget can give you more freedom

August 16, 2009

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— One word seems to turn off consumers like no other — no matter how strapped they are: “budget.”

Some personal finance experts won’t even use the word. Others substitute euphemisms, such as “spending plan.”

The bottom line is, you shouldn’t run your household finances with one giant slush fund and hope everything works out.

Budgets allow you to do two fundamental things: discover where your money has gone and plan for where it will go.

Here are some notions about what budgets build:

• Freedom: Budgets might tell us no to dining out, buying a new iPhone or remodeling the kitchen. But they are really about freedom: about buying something you want guilt-free because you can afford it.

• Flexibility: With budgets, you’re in control. If you want to dine out more and buy clothes less, revise your budget categories. You control the budget, not the other way around.

• Tracking rules: Knowing where your money went is crucial. One of the easiest ways to track is to charge everything on a credit card, so your statement becomes a snapshot of your recent money life.

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