Today is Day 9 of the 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life Challenge. If you want to jump in, go get the book at Amazon, Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life.
Money is one of those areas where you always could use a little more. Just because you can pay your bills and eat doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like to fit in a night out, or a vacation, or a new outfit, or whatever floats your boat. Am I right, or am I right? Then, you get a raise and have that little extra, but what happens? You just expand your budget to encompass that amount and still need a little more. Surely I’m not the only one with this syndrome.
So what does the average American do when there are more wants than bank balance? Why charge it, of course! Before long, you need not only a little extra for the extras but a house-sized extra for the debt. Like the credit card commercial says, “priceless.” Right.
It’s a hard hole to dig out of; I can tell you from personal experience. But it is possible. Unlike the government, you can’t spend your way out of debt. You must actually spend less than you earn. Shocking truth.
There are more than a few options for tackling credit card debt, but, like Lorilee, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey. My husband and I took Financial Peace University many years ago and used his principles for paying off a lot of our debt and budgeting our income to live within our means. I also taught the FPU Jr. at our homeschool co-op a few years ago. I know some of the things, like investing, went over those junior high kids’ heads, but they really seemed to get into other areas, like avoiding college loans. It was a seed planted that will one day hopefully protect them from financial tragedy.
I like Lorilee’s suggestion to use happiness points to adjust your budget. After paying the overhead, like rent/mortgage, utilities, and food, decide what else brings you real happiness.
- A curio cabinet full of collectibles that have to be dusted? Only if they remind me of something or someone special, like my mom’s stuff.
- A ginormous television that you have to sit 10 feet from to see the whole screen? Seriously, I’ve seen those in our apartment complex. The living rooms aren’t that big here. I cannot see the point of having a wall-mounted television that probably costs a whole month’s rent.
- And then, you have to pay a monthly cable bill to provide input to that TV. How many channels do you really watch? I might be tempted to pay for cable again if I could just order the channels I wanted, which is about 5 out of the 200 offered. Obviously, I am not the cable company’s target customer.
I have been guilty of assuming someone is financially well-off just because of what they own or drive or how they dress, only to find out they make less money than us. I have had people complain to me that they cannot afford to do some of the things we do only to find out they make more money than us. Lesson learned. Don’t judge.
So, what brings you happiness that you want to add to your budget? And what do you need to axe from the budget to fit it in?
I’ll go first. I want to travel more with my family. Weekend trips are fine. Nothing fancy. Just time together. I’m willing to axe the weekly drinks and snacks at the coffee shop (about $10/week). That won’t buy us a weekend at a resort, but it’s a start to building a vacation fund. It’s always the first step that is the hardest.