Survivify: Family

How to Survivify: Creating (and Living on) a Budget

Are those pesky overdraft fees getting you down? Or, more importantly, are they draining what's left of your bank account? Could be that it's time to start thinking about creating a budget. Contrary to what you might think, creating a budget doesn't mean "stop spending" -- and it doesn't mean you can't continue to do things you enjoy. In fact, a budget will help ensure that you can afford to do and buy the things you want.

Yes, you will need to make some compromises. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. So, if your priorities are to go skiing every winter and snorkeling every spring, so be it. The most important thing is to understand yourself - what your needs and wants are, what you must have, and what you can live without. After that, budgeting is really easy, and it won't be long before you wonder how you went without a budget.

Be a sport and share some tips and learnings below.

Look on the bright side:

  • With a budget, at least you'll know everything you can't afford to do or buy.
  • You finally have an excuse to skip that dreaded annual party at your crazy Aunt Harriet's: "Sorry, it's not in the budget!"
  • Hey - at least you have money to budget!
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Tips from the trenches:

  • Pay for everything with cash for a while. You'll always know how much is left, and forking over actual cash will make you think before you spend.
  • Try using only credit/debit cards, if you pay them off each month, so that you'll have statements tracking everything you spend.
  • Set aside cash in different envelopes (e.g., gas, clothes, food) to track and control spending.
  • Look for money leaks and plug up those holes. Daily coffees and lottery tickets add up!
  • Review past bills from utilities and other expenses, and project a monthly amount for each category.
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Words of Wisdom

Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions. -A. A. Latimer
Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them. -Sally Poplin
Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. -Oscar Wilde
I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something. -Jackie Mason
My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. -Errol Flynn