Good money management tips
From: Mary Hunt is the creator of The Cheapskate Monthly newsletter Is money a little tight? Hoping a raise will come through soon? I hate to burst your bubble, but by the time taxes are taken out of any raise you'll be lucky to see half of it in your bank account. If that's not bad enough, consider that nearly everyone who earns more almost automatically spends more. And reckless spending can consume a lot of cash fast. The degree of reckless spending seems to rise in direct proportion to income. It won't be long until you are back in your old financial rut, just barely getting by. Sadly, until you get serious about your spending, more money will never be enough. The secret to getting cash inflow to exceed outflow is to reduce the outflow. That is a solution available to almost everyone. Cutting expenses is not at all difficult once you understand it is like giving yourself a tax-free raise. The challenge is to find realistic yet painless ways to trim spending without creating drudgery or removing the fun from your life. Here are some suggestions. LIVE WITH CASH: Except for payments you must send through the mail, living with cash is a good way to curb mindless spending. Surveys indicate that cash customers are more mindful of what they're doing and therefore spend a lot less than those paying with plastic. LIMIT YOUR ATM TRIPS TO ONCE A WEEK: Develop an envelope system for areas that can get out of control, like entertainment and office lunches. Place in the envelope the amount you have allotted for a particular area of spending. As you go to lunch or a movie, take the money from the corresponding envelope. When it's empty, the money is gone and that means no more spending until the next fill-up. Hint: A $100 traveler's check stashed in your wallet will give you an uncanny sense of security and willingness to leave the plastic and checkbook at home. MAKE IT AUTOMATIC: There's a principle of life that says if you don't see it, you won't miss it. Use that principle to your advantage to build a nest egg. Fill out an "Automatic Deposit Authorization" at your bank instructing them to automatically move $25 or $50 each week or two from your checking account into savings. You might feel the pinch the first or second time that money disappears from your available balance, but soon you won't notice. STOP SHOPPING: Unless you have a specific need and the money to pay for it, don't wander aimlessly through the mall or surf the Internet just to see what looks good. Remember that a true need is never discovered while you're browsing in a store. It is realized during normal, everyday living. Hint: As you identify a need, write it on your "To Buy" list for your next planned purchasing trip. USE WHAT YOU HAVE: Have you taken a look in your pantry and freezer lately? You may be surprised to see just how much food you have that is already paid for. Use it up before you make another trip to the supermarket. Before you buy anything new, you should stop long enough to ask yourself this question: Do I already have something that will suffice? You'll be surprised how many times the answer is yes.