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The change of season often inspires people to make other changes, and at no time is that more true than shifting from winter to spring.
It might be sprucing up the house, your wardrobe or even your habits — and I don’t just mean diet. Ask yourself how long it’s been since you took a long, hard look at your budget. Is it gathering dust?
Do you know where every dollar is going?
I know I got a wake-up call with my most recent credit card statement. Yikes. As I scanned through it, unfortunately there was no single, big ticket item that was an out-of-the-ordinary purchase. In fact, far too many of them looked all too familiar… and frequent. Evidently the phrase “retail therapy” has taken on mantra-like meaning in my day-to-day schedule. After all, what mom doesn’t relish spending her alone time gleefully wandering the aisles of her favorite store(s)? It has become apparent that I might have more alone time than I realized, so it behooves me to find other places to locate my zen.
Like many people, my husband and I choose to put almost all of our purchases on our credit card in order to accrue points that we later turn into plane tickets to visit our families. (Read here to see if you agree with this tactic.) Of course, we pay it off every month. Some months this is more difficult than others, though, which implies it’s time to break out the magnifying glass and take a closer look at what we’re buying.
Tip for getting your budget back on track
One strategy I learned about recently is to review your credit card statement with three different colored highlighters. Use one color for the necessities (you know, food, mortgage etc.); another for purchases you made because you really wanted them; and the third for less thoughtful buys – often the items that trigger the “oh, I forgot I bought that” alarm in your head.
I’m a gal who thrives on routine (summer vacation nearly breaks me every year), and I love lists. I keep these running lists as memos on my phone, and I’ve developed a short-hand for the items I regularly purchase at my usual stores. However, that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily getting the best prices. Christa (Clark’s General Manager) keeps telling me how much she’s saved on her grocery bills by shopping at Kroger versus Publix. And the entire crew at ClarkHoward.com sings the praises of Aldi. Sounds like it might be time for this creature of habit to make a few changes.
Ready to get your budget in order? Here are some resources to help you get started:
- How to save more money: Rethink your spending
- Save $5,000 a year by cutting out these 5 little luxuries
- 19 ways to cut costs and save more every month
Editor’s note: Liz Seymour is a stay-at-home mom and author of “Moms and Money,” a ClarkHoward.com series focused on helping moms establish a solid financial plan and better understanding of household finances — all while juggling the endless duties of a stay-at-home parent.