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Top 7 Things Every Budget Should Contain

Ok. So you’re starting your budget. Or you’re looking to simplify your current budget. What now? What overarching ideals should you be following? Here are 7 different things I think you should focus on with your budget. Some are more strategic. Some more tactical.
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Is Budgeting Worth Your Time?

Yes and no. I think in some circumstances budgeting probably isn’t worth it. Are you independently wealthy and don’t have any major hobbies, like maybe a drug addiction? Then I think foregoing a budget is fine. But, even then, I’m guessing wealthy individuals (truly wealthy people) probably do a lot more managing like a business owner would do.

Other than this one instance, here are a few reasons why I think budgeting is worth your time.
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5 Simple Ideas to Improve Your Budgeting

The word simple doesn’t seem like it should go together with budgeting. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last decade, simple should be the one descriptor we should aim for in our budgeting.

The following are five simple ideas/techniques/thoughts to help you either get started budgeting or simplify what you’re already doing.
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Budget or Budget Obsession?

I’ve caught this disease before. And you will too if you haven’t already. It’s called “budgetitis”—the act of obsessing over your budget so much that it makes life miserable. Below are a few symptoms of budgetitis and a few suggestions on how to overcome it.
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Financial Automation – To Do or Not to Do?

I’ll admit up front that I’m a big fan of financial automation. All of my must pay bills are either automatic or at least semi-automatic (I still have to initiate the payment). But just because we can automate, does that me we should automate?

I don’t think it’s an either/or question. Many people, I’m assuming, automate a portion of their finances. If not paying the mortgage or rent is not an option, then why leave it open as optional? I suppose for some households, not paying is an option in the current economic environment.

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Moving to Take a Job

I moved last summer to take a job in a state over 1,200 miles away. The little town where I lived was (and still is) very dependent on the oil and gas industry. That industry was hit hard in late 2008 as gas prices tumbled.

I worked for my father-in-law and, essentially, laid myself off. He owns a small manufacturing company that just couldn’t support him and my family anymore. So I decided it would be best if I moved to take a job in a different industry. Hard? Yes. Very. But it was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.

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Not Enough Income? Or Just Bad Financial Habits?

I’ve been more mindful of my spending lately because my wife and I are attempting to speed up our debt reduction (debt that was 99% my fault). We aren’t big spenders by any account. My car is 13 years old. My wife’s van is 6 years old—and both paid off. We don’t have cable or satellite TV. We don’t overspend from month to month. We don’t drink or go out to fancy restaurants. But something isn’t quite right.

While we both have an above average combined income, we can’t quite get ahead on the debt. As I’ve started going through our spending, I’m seeing a trend. I call it “death by a thousand cuts”. Yes, we don’t buy large ticket items but a lot of little purchases = one large purchase.

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Fixed and Flexible Budgeting

I like to experiment with my budget. One of my latest budget Frankensteins has been to separate what I refer to as my “must pays” from my discretionary spending.

These “must pays” are bills that absolutely have to be paid. If they don’t get paid, I lose a house, the electricity goes off (not good in the south during the summer), or I don’t drive to work. So, extremely critical stuff.

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