The current economic downturn is bringing to light lots of financial crises, On a big-business level, and an at-home personal level too.
It makes me want to sit back, and take stock of my life, and my money. It also makes me want to take a long hard look at how, and why I spend my money the way that I do. I have very little debt, and I pay my credit cards off in full each month. Still though, there are months when I put more on credit than I need to.
There are months when I spend more on food than I should, or clothes, or electronics. There have been a couple of months recently when getting that credit card bill the next month hurt a bit. So, what’s behind that?
What’s behind it for you, when you do it? Will you tell me?
Even though I care for my credit score, and manage my money well enough, the finer points of budgeting still seem to elude me. I’ll set a number for something (Christmas for example) and then that number flies right out the window when I shop.
Maybe it’s worthwhile to revisit some of the basic tenets of money management, especially when it comes to credit cards. From now on, before I spend any money (on credit or not) I am going to ask myself the following questions:
- Why am I ing this item?
- Can I afford to go without it?
- Will I miss it or even remember it if I do not it?
- Do I have something else I could make do with instead?
With the holidays coming up fast, I need a checks-and-bounds system for gifts too. If it is an item for someone else, I am going to look at it this way:
- Will the person really like this item?
- Why do I want to give it to them?
- Could I get them something else that they would like just as well, and spend less on it?
- Am I trying to impress them with the gift, or does it really fit who they are?
I am also going to try to complete my Christmas shopping in early December, so that I do not get stuck rushing around at the last minute trying to find something, anything, to give someone that I forgot.
If I have learned nothing else about money, I have learned that given a little time, thought, and preparation you can save yourself a lot of trouble, and money.
The articles below all deal with managing different aspects of credit, and personal finance. I really enjoy looking through my feed reader each week, visiting favorite blogs, and discovering new ones. I hope that you enjoy these articles too!
- Christmas Shopping and Saving Tips for a Troubled Economy - Money Smart Life complied a short article that linked to the best of their holiday articles. All the good ones are there, including How to Double your savings on Christmas Shopping deals and Holiday Budgeting Tips from Ebeneezer Scrooge.
- Layaway Is Back - Blunt Money did an article on one of my favorite topics – layaway. I have sorely missed layaway. Especially now that I get asked to fill out a credit card application every time I check out. Whatever happened to paying for an item before you took it home?
- 6 Ways to Save Money On Your Holiday Party - Money Crashers had some great tips on hosting holiday parties without breaking the bank. I thought this was a smart take since so many people focus only on talking about and budgeting for gifts. It’s important not to forget the cost of those “get togethers” too.
- Black Friday 2008 Free Stuff - Black Friday is a shopper’s best friend! My Dollar plan has a list of some excellent free deals that you can take advantage of.
- Buying Gift Cards at a Discount - Five Cent Nickel gives us the lowdown on how to get giftcards for less than face value.
- Mrs. Micah takes the alternate approach with “This Christmas, Give Cash, Not Gift Cards“.
Shoring Up Your Finances
- Beware the ‘coupon cops’ at Smart Spending highlights one of the major reasons I am afraid to use coupons – the rudeness of the clerks.
- When a Treat Stops Being a Treat – and How to Get It Back – is an awesome article over at The Simple Dollar. It talks about breaking unnecessary spending by removing it from your normal routine and making it a treat instead.
- Reminder: Keep a Sharp Eye on Medical Bills – Free Money Finance gives an excellent reminder. Make sure you aren’t paying more than you have to for your medical care.
- Debt Reduction 101 – Beginnerâ€™s Guide To Debt Reduction - If you’re looking for a short and simple approach to getting your finances under control, check out this guide at No Credit Needed.
- Can You Afford to Have a Baby? WiseBread takes a look at the real cost of having a child, and the many factors involved.
- Quick and Easy Ways to Start a Savings Plan Today - Frugal Dad lays it on the line – the simplest way to save.
- Clever Dude is Looking out for himself and preparing for the worst – Not a bad idea really. This article explores the options of building an emergency fund, and paying down debt.
Carnivals, Festivals and Celebrations:
- The Festival of frugality #152: affected by recession edition @ The Financial Wellness Project
- Carnival of Financial Planning – November 22 2008 Edition @ The Skilled Investor
- 11-17-08 Twenty-Something Finances-Carnival at Living Almost Large
- Carnival of the road to financial independence #1 at One Family’s Blog
- Carnival of Personal Finance No. 177 @ The Sun’s Financial Diary
That’s it for this weekends thoughts, and links. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!