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Find Out Where Your Spending Leaks Are, and Fix Them.

by J. Money on Thursday, August 13, 2009

Are You Leaking?I got a pretty impressive email the other day, and I’m hoping it inspires you!

It comes from a reader here at Budgetsaresexy (we’ll call him Smart Budgeter), and he does a wonderful job at summing up a few points that we often don’t hear about – or at least in this way. And what’s even more interesting is that he uses & reloads GIFT CARDS to work it all out! Hah! Whatever works… Check it out:

J – I am budget crazy! Have been on a solid budget for about 2 years now. In the beginning, the hardest part was figuring out where the leaks in our spending was. For us it was grocery/and loose spending at the supercenter. Now we purchase/reload gift cards at the start of every paycheck cycle. We prepare a 2 week food menu and shop all at once. What ever balance is left on the gift cards is spent on non-need items like new towels, or treats (toys) for the kids. This tactic has made the biggest impact on our ability to stay disciplined to our budget and I suggest it to everyone I know. Take care – Smart Budgeter

If you haven’t found them already, there are at least 3 great points to take from this:

Find out where your spending leaks are.

The only real way to do this is to track your spending for a month or two and see where it’s all going (I know, it sucks, but you only have to do it once!) When you find it, you can then work on improving it and feeling good about it all. When I did this I learned that I was spending $300-$400 a month on clothes, electronics, $40 bottles of water, and all sorts of random stuff that I could care less about. That may be higher or lower than what you spend, but for me it was horrible and I wanted to change it.

Do something about it!

Luckily, the only thing I had to do in order to quit shopping was to STOP going into stores ;) Since I don’t shop much online, that pretty much cut out a good 50-75% of it (once I actively made an effort to not “shop for fun”). When I do shop now though, I’m always cognizant of the amounts I’m willing to spend in order to be happy with everything (roughly $100/mo) Sometimes I stick with it, and others I splurge – but at least it’s a conscious decision I’m making now.

Reward yourself and allow “extras” every now and then

For Smart Budgeter, it’s all about treating his kids or picking up things he’d LIKE to have, but that he doesn’t NEED. For me, it’s a tiny allowance for lottery tickets, coffee, and an occasional new outfit (yes, I’m sorta like a girl in that way). As long as it makes YOU happy, it really doesn’t matter what it is – just that you allow yourself to be human. Allowances like this keeps you motivated and sane, so be sure to include them :) Now get out there and start plugging those leaks!


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