How Budgeting Can Help You Reclaim Your Happiness

By: Deirdre Jones

How can planning a budget help you fully enjoy your life? Well, with a budget, you are better able to plug up that drain that seems to suck away all your money every pay period. You are better able to identify where your money is actually going, rather than playing the guessing game. And for most folks, time is a precious commodity, better spent elsewhere in more enjoyable activities.

In order to figure out where you are wasting money, you have to take a look at your spending patterns. And a budget can help you in this area, because you are allotting a certain amount of money for each monthly expenditure. To start your budget, you will need to make a list of all your monthly expenditures and the amount that you spend on each item. You may be surprised to realize how much money you actually should have left after paying all your monthly bills. Now, it is time to figure out where all that extra cash is actually going. You can start the whole process by keeping track of every expense that you incur (even if it is a candy bar or cup of coffee) for about two weeks.

You may be shocked at how much money you are actually wasting each day. If you are planning to continue your current lifestyle after this little exercise, then these things should be included in your budget.

However, the whole point of this is to help you learn to be a better steward of your money. And after looking at the whole picture, you may realize that you actually waste more money than you thought and that your money could be better enjoyed elsewhere. Time to exercise a little self-control...

So how can you enjoy life a little more on your current salary? Here a few ideas:

1. When grocery shopping, buy only the items that you planned for, and never go when you are starving.

2. Do you REALLY have to have that outfit just because it is on sale? You can curb credit card expenses by buying only when you have planned it or it is necessary.

3. Always compare prices before you make a purchase, especially a major purchase. Sometimes you can save hundreds this way.

4. Try taking your lunch to work rather than eating out. You will probably find that you will save tons this way, and your waistline will thank you.

Surely you can think of other little things that are sucking you dry and killing the joy in your life. By exercising just a little restraint, you will have the money you need when you want to go on that vacation or buy that something that you have really been looking forward to. When you start to think of the whole budgeting process as an exercise in reclaiming the happiness in your life, then you will see that it is not such a bad thing. Think of it as a way to take that exotic vacation or buy that new furniture, and you might just find yourself saying, "Hey, it works for me..." when you think about your budget.

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