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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Pyramid Schemes – Don’t Get Caught at the Bottom

In broad terms, a pyramid scheme is presented as a type of investment, or business opportunity, in which profits or large returns are based primarily on recruiting others to join the venture. There’s typically no product or service being sold nor any investment being made. Joining the scheme also requires an upfront investment. This is where the “pyramid” comes into play.

With that, here are a few things to remember about pyramid schemes.
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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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Reduce Your Debt – Right Now

Not in a rude “you should do this or you’re a schmuck” kind of way. What I mean is that there are steps you can take immediately to reduce your debt even if you don’t think so. Just getting started will give you a mountain of confidence as you reduce your mountain of debt.

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Credit Unions – An Overview

I’ve only been a credit union member once. I enjoyed it until they closed down my checking account for overdrawing it too many times. Completely my fault, of course.

But, credit unions had a stigma in my mind after that. But I have a friend who swears he’ll never go back to a bank after having been a credit union member. He’s not alone. Credit unions are popular and seem to be growing more so each year.

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Happiness and Money

I’ve long known that our attitude towards money reveals a lot about who we really are. I coined a motto a few years ago about money and people. It goes something sort of like, “otherwise normal people do very “un”normal things when money is involved.”

I had just been through a bad business partnership in which both parties (yes, me too) made some very unwise decisions. Decisions which not only cost me dollar-wise but emotionally as well.

I’m not surprised, then, when I ran across this article from Drewberry Mortgage Insurance about the latest research which indicates, all things equal, better financial control equals greater happiness.

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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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