Small Steps to Making Your Budget Work

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  • Create a “top-three” priority list. Choose three areas in which you’d like to cut expenses. Write your list in big letters and post it in a prominent place, such as on the refrigerator or on the wall in your office. Spend as usual on other items, but keep a close eye on your “top three.”
  • Review budget categories in which you spend the most money. Trimming 5 to 10 percent from these categories will make a big difference in your savings. Prime categories to trim are groceries, entertainment, and clothing.
  • Budget for impulses. You are only human, so put a small amount into your budget for impulse items – just don’t go over your budget.
  • Make a list when you shop, so you can limit the time you spend in a store. The more time you spend shopping, the more likely you are to spend impulsively. So make your list, get in and get out.
  • Resolve to cut out one expense that brings you neither joy nor prosperity. Write your resolution on a piece of paper and post it prominently, so you won’t forget. Put the money that you would have spent in an envelope or your savings account.
  • Sign up for the free Money Club Makeover, 21 Days to Boost Your Savings.
  • Include next Holiday season in your budget. After paying off this year’s bills, put aside $50 to $100 a month for next year’s Holiday presents. You’ll emerge from next year’s holiday rush debt-free. Reserve a bit of your funds so you can buy all of your decorations and cards for the next year right after the Holiday.
  • Enlist your family’s help. Have a family meeting and brainstorm ideas for saving money. Are dinners out really worth the expense? Or could you have a rotating “cooking night” and experiment with new foods at home? Does anyone in the family have a fun money-making idea that could help ends meet?
  • Go for an entire day without spending any money. As you stop yourself from spending money for this experiment, you will begin to become more conscious of the times you do spend money.
  • Have fun for less. Take yourself (and your partner if you have one) on a date. Make it fun and inexpensive, such as a trip to the beach or the zoo, or to hear live music. Bring a picnic or stop off for your favorite food. Revel in the luxury of your freedom to enjoy this moment.
  • Think about what matters most to you, and how you can use your money better in the future to bring you more pleasure, joy and love.