Thursday, March 5, 2009

Budgets are the New Black

So says my bank's latest magazine.

We're all about buying the best bargains here at "Bargain Huntress," right? But if you're living paycheck to paycheck, chances are you won't have the money to snatch up the next great bargain. Furthermore, buying in bulk is a great way to save a lot of money in the long run, but if the money's not there, you're stuck buying smaller packages that cost more per item.

So here's the reader's digest version of the article in my bank's magazine:

Know your goals. It may be saving for college or a remodel; it may be getting out of debt; it may be building a rainy-day fund. "The [goals] give you something to come back to each time you're tempted to fall off the plan."

Know where your money is going. Keep track of EVERY expenditure for a month. Then you can decide where you can make changes in order to meet your goals. I use MSMoney at the moment; I previously used Quicken; and I'm looking into some of the (safe) freeware that's available, like

Know where your money should go. Here's a breakdown of what your budget should look like:

  • Housing: 35%

  • Transportation: 15%

  • Other debt repayment: 15%

  • Savings: 10%

  • Life: 25%

Make some changes. According to the author, the easiest way to make changes is to go to the ATM once a week and take out all the money you'll spend each week and don't go back. "Someone asked me what you do when you run out of money....And I said, 'Hello!' You don't spend any more.'"

Share the (new) wealth. Once you have a system down, recruit others to make changes, too. (Bargain Huntress: I thought they were going to suggest helping others less fortunate. I say do that, too!)

Here are some options for money management software:


  1. IF YOU ARE DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH, the Costco American Express card can be a great deal. You get the security of paying with a credit card, plus cash back rewards. If you ever don't pay it off in full every month, cancel it, cut it up, and use a different system.

    That's my two cents... pun intended. :)

  2. We love Quicken! Thanks for the tips. Costco can sometimes be my enemy! :)

  3. I just got a coupon booklet from Costco. It has a coupon for $20 off Quicken Deluxe 2009. That brings the price down to $19.99. The coupons are good through April 5.

  4. Brett and I have been using Mvelopes but I got tired of paying for it so we just switched to and so far I really like it!