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How the hell can i keep on a budget?

breakfasteatre

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Im a bartender on the weekend and whatever money i make in tips, i deposit it that night so that i dont carry any cash on me.

So because of this, all of my expenses are either debit or my visa.
i took a look at my spending habits and they are out of control.

I want to stay on a budget, but i have no idea how to.
What sort of things can i do to keep on track?

Should i be carrying a book with me and keeping track of what im spending by writing each transaction down? Is there any easier way?
All transactions can be viewed online

I want to start saving seriously now, and in the situation i am in now, im willing to make a huge change in my spending habits to do this.

Im just afraid that i wont keep on it
 

Brian278

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Sometimes just putting the numbers on paper helps. I.E. you make this much (A), you want to save this much (B), so you can only spend this much (C): A - B = C.
 

Matt

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We have all been there at times.

Personally I took a look at what I was spending a couple of years back for the same reason. I make pretty good money, but didnt seem to be saving as much as I thought I should....its all those little things adding up on you.

What I did to track it was made a note to myself in my mobile phone, end of the day put it into a spreadsheet, and then looked over the wastage at the end of a couple of weeks.

It was substantial....then looked at what I could do to cut it (drink less, eat local food and call home on skype instead of my mobile was the short answer) and what stuff I didnt really need, and worked at removing those items from my spending in future.
 

Gus

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I think the debit card may be part of the problem. It is to easy to purchase things and not have a running tally of expenses. I would suggest that you figure out your budget for a week and then use cash to make those purchases. You will know how much you have spent by the amount left in your wallet. Check the amount a few times each day so you are aware of how much is left to spend.

It is simple but it works. I had a brother-in-law who got way over his head in debt and pulled out of it by doing this.
 

ms244

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I keep a monthly spreadsheet and update it when I spend money.

If I pull out cash (to go out, usually) I just list a separate 'cash' category.

Rent, taxes, etc and other reoccurring expenses are automatically subtracted from the income.

I have food and ebay/other purchases in separate columns and keep a tally on how much I use.

Not only can you see how you blow through your cash, it also helps cut down on drinking and eating junkfood.
 

Karo

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I've tried the write down how much you spend method before for about 6 months. I don't think it really helps that much other then when you're bored and you get to refresh you memory on where you wasted your money on.

In the end, you just have to have self control. Everytime you are going to spend money, think twice and ask yourself do I really need this?
 

Orsini

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In the United States there are legitimate consumer credit counseling outfits. The one I am dealing with here has a very nice class for young people just starting out on how to organize finances, budget, save, etc. There may be the equivalent in Canada. You might look for something like this.

Oh yes, I might also mention that I have used MS Money for some years and I do not recommend it.
 

FidelCashflow

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just make an excel sheet showing your best estimate of your income and expenseson a monthly basis. update this worksheet weekly, or whenever you get a chance, that way you can see when you start to get off track from your goals, when you do, look at your online bank statements and figure out where it went wrong. use that information to either adjust your estimates, or your spending habits.

also, stop coming to this website, this site trains you to be a glutton for clothes.
 

Matt

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Originally Posted by Karo
I've tried the write down how much you spend method before for about 6 months. I don't think it really helps that much other then when you're bored and you get to refresh you memory on where you wasted your money on. In the end, you just have to have self control. Everytime you are going to spend money, think twice and ask yourself do I really need this?
yeah tabulating the data is one thing, but working out how you use it is the more important step.... It is almost always the small stupid things that add up over time. When you blow something on a major purchase, you know about it, but the small incrementals over time tend to do the damage. So working out, say, how much you have blown on sandwiches you could have made at home, that kind of stuff...is where you learn to keep your spending in. A couple of examples - one simple small and stupid thing that I noticed and changed when I did this....the place that delivers my lunch charges a dollar a can for Diet Coke, which I drink every day. I sent the cleaner to the supermarket and bought a 24 pack for six bucks and stuck them in the fridge in the office. That saves me like $20 a month - not much, but I found like 20 of those 20 bucks here and there things that I could change. A friend used the same method but went further in his reigning in (cos I just wanted to see where it was going, but he has both a baby and a decent debt meaning he really had to make changes). He basically never eats out any more. He comes and meets us for drinks after dinner. We tend to eat in pricy-ish places (by VN standards anyhow). He eats at home, shows up at about 10, and joins the evening there. He says he cut over $300 a month from that for him and his wife - and all of it goes on debt repayments for him.
 

johnapril

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I use my bank card for most purchases. I record every receipt in my checkbook ledger. I keep an account of the total amount spent in categories on an Excel spreadsheet, and I archive these annually. Everything spent, everything saved, is tracked. Try that.
 

itskub

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I was thinking about this also. How do you determine a budget, and how much you should or shouldnt spend?
I'm a full time college student in NY city, I make $225-250 per week as a part-time host. I spend $30-50 on groceries every 2 weeks, and every other week or so Ill drop like $30-60 on a book, or piece of clothing, or something off ebay. I know that just going by what 'feels' as not spending too much isn't practical, especially once I graduate.

The other thing is, seeing as how loans are covering just about all of my (ridicuously costly) tuition, adding $100-200 to make bank account every week just seems to measly, like is that really going to do anything.
 

iridium7777

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what you already spent, you've already spent, nothing else you can do about it.

for the future, i'd do this:

know how much money you have coming in, say every 2 weeks or whatever your period is = A.

take out what you need for basic living in that 2 weeks, your rent, food, cable, phone or whatever other utility bill you might have = B.

A-B = C. out of C take out what you want to save = D. A-B-D = X. x is your fluff money for that period of time.


if x is negative, see if you're ok without having any savings, or start cutting down your B's. eat out less and go to a grocery store and buy your own food to cook. move into a cheaper apartment. cut off your cable. consider increasing your A's... get another job? get a higher paying job?

do this spending regiment once a week and track your progress. after you do all your math and realize that you only have $30 to spend on living for a full week, it'll hit you.


and everyone's been there, so don't get too down.
 

Thomas

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Yeah, I get there myself when I see my AmEx statement and start wondering where the hell it all went.

IMHO, the bottom line is this: for larger purchases, we scrutinize them, sometimes mercilessly - houses, cars, TV's, computers, etc.etc. At some point, these dollar values start flying under the radar - 1 or 2 dollars, and so forth. At some point you've got to start scrutinizing these as well, asking whether this is essential, or if there's a better alternative.

For books, CD's, what-not, more often than not I'll buy second-hand, or barter. I've got book credit at a used book store, and the sad truth is that I've got a shelf full of books I've not read, which helps curtail my book buying.
 

graphix

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i was in the same position so i got Microsoft money, it has really helped me quite a bit. Once you figure out the basics of using it, it becomes very easy to make updates. I update my register from my debit account once a week and tag each debit as a category (I.E. gas, clothing, food, bills) Its nice because it puts together a pie chart for you which makes it very easy to see where you are overspending, for me it was eating out. When your not on a fixed salary i think you will find it harder to create a fixed budget for the month like some people do.
B
 

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