Perhaps you realize that budgeting is important, but you just can't muster up the energy to tackle it. If so, instead of thinking of it as an enormous lifestyle change that will have you miserably pinching pennies for the rest of your life, focus on the positives. Try thinking of it as a game, or as one of those quizzes you take in a magazine or online to learn more about yourself. People who budget know a lot about themselves -- and they often end up financially better off as a result. In many cases, figuring out where your money comes from and where it goes may even liberate you to some degree. You may learn that you have more than you think!
Another strategy is to remember that budgeting is not nearly as ghastly and painful as you might be assuming. It can be done fairly simply. First, just track where your money is going for a few weeks, and then rearrange your spending, so that your dollars are going where you want them to -- to things you really need (house payments, food, medicine) and really want (music lessons, books, baseball tickets), and not so much on things you could fairly easily live without.
For lots of ideas on how to save money, visit our Living Below Your Means discussion board. To learn from fellow budgeters, drop in on our Budgeting discussion board. In previous columns, you can read about budgeting worksheets, establishing reasonable household expenses, and calculating annual spending rates.
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To learn more about ways to save money and spend less, check out our Personal Finance area, which is chock-full of guidance on insurance, buying a car or home, paying for college, banking, setting up short-term savings, getting out of debt, lowering your tax bill, and more.
And by the way, if thinking about investing makes your head hurt and you'd like more help with your financial situation, look into Motley Fool GreenLight. It's a valuable service, featuring advice from two of our top personal finance experts. You need to make sure you're saving enough, and well enough, to meet all your needs.
This article was originally published on October 5, 2005. It has been updated.
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