I work full time and make okay money. I pay my rent and other bills every month, don’t go out a lot, and haven’t gone anywhere on vacation the two years I’ve been at my job. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong because I barely make it from paycheck to paycheck. --- WHERE’S MY MONEY?
DEAR WHERE’S: Although you may not think so, budgeting can be a deceptively simple skill. But it takes practice and discipline.
Some banks offer on-line tools to analyze your debit card spending. If your bank has this service, check it out. You might be surprised where your money’s going.
Now if you’re really brave, you could tuck your plastic deep into your wallet and give the Great Cash Experiment a try.
Figure roughly what you spend in a week on small-scale necessities like transportation, gas, food – the kinds of things you currently debit or charge. That becomes your weekly cash allowance. Withdraw only that much from the bank and use it for all your incidental weekly expenses.
There’s no better way to get an accurate idea of where you’re spending money than when you have to actually fork over some cash for your purchases.
There will be times – and plenty of them – when you’ll need to go to the card; but if you stick to the plan for a few months, not only should you have a clearer feel for your particular cost of living, but you might end up with a little extra jingle to put into savings or be used for a self-rewarding micro-splurge.