Secrets to Successful Budgeting |


Years ago I was a guest on “The Maury Povich Show”, something I’ve never been prouder of. The show was a little steamy at the time, and I just realized that some 20 years later, Maury is still there.

I remember some things about the show, like what I was wearing (what was I thinking?) and how kind the production team was. Maury was very nice too.

I also remember something Maury said to me in response to me being there to talk about my book, “Debt-Proof Living”, and telling my story and talking about my journey to get out of the credit card debt. (He seemed genuinely relieved to be talking about something other than the show’s typical topics.)

Maury said people are much more willing to come on the show to talk about sex, infidelity and all kinds of slanderous and shocking behavior than to talk about money and debt. Its typical guests are eager to recognize the most extravagant and shocking lifestyles and behaviors. But their financial problems? Certainly not. People will talk about anything but money.

I’m not going to ask you to talk about your financial situation on national television, but I have this money-related question: do you budget your income? If you say no, you may be surprised to learn that you are part of the clear majority in this country. According to Gallup polls, 66% of Americans don’t have a budget and only 32% of Americans prepare a detailed written or computerized budget each month. If only the 66% knew how budgeting (or, as I prefer to call it, a spending plan) would change their lives.

One of the best things you can do to stay on track with money, even if you’re not where you want to be and don’t know where to start, is to create a plan about how you will spend your money before you spend it. this. That’s all a budget is: a rehearsal where you “pre-spend” your paper paycheck before parting with it for even just $1. A budget where you create your own categories, “pre-spend” every dollar of every paycheck by assigning it a job to do, then carefully track where the money goes is a budget that will push you to develop new habits and routines. . In no time, these changes will become your new normal.

What I call the envelope method is old fashioned but it’s a super simple way to manage a budget that works really well. Withdraw the money allocated for your daily expenses for food, gasoline, clothing – those expenses you don’t pay by mail. Yes, in cash. Get envelopes and label them accordingly.

Divide the money between the envelopes, placing the money allocated for groceries in the envelope marked “Grocery”, the gasoline in the one marked “Gas” and so on. Spend from these envelopes, not from a debit card, credit card or checkbook.

See what I mean by this method being “old fashioned?” Unlike your plastic, you can’t overspend with this method. When that envelope labeled “Food” or “Grocery” is empty, there’s no need to spend until it’s topped up the next payday.

Whatever method you choose or create, sticking to it will keep you on track for successful budgeting.

Marie invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments to, “Ask Mary.” Tips may be subject to This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.coma frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living”.



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