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Personal Finance Budgeting - Five Reasons Why Budgets Are Needed

Aug 17, 2007
Imagine setting out on a cross-country car trip with no itinerary, no maps, no money and no source of help. Jumping in the car, and heading across the country with no direction and no planning may sound like fun (and it might be for awhile), but what happens at the first sign of trouble? Living without a budget is a lot like that car trip.

It may seem easy enough to buy what you want, when you want it, use credit cards to handle those nuisance bills that come along very few months (like car insurance, vehicle tags and registration and even a prescription or two), but what do you do when something big hits? Would you find yourself in serious financial trouble if your income suddenly changed due to layoffs or a career-change; the roof needs to be replaced; or an unexpected baby arrived?

Spending plans, otherwise know as budgets, are just that: a plan for how you handle your money, to better prepare you for all of life's twists and turns. Most people hate even the thought of budget. Why? Because they have been taught that a budget limits what they can have; what they can do; and what they can spend. Smart financial planners know that the opposite is really true. A good budget can be used to set the stage for financial security, and gives the freedom to spend money on honestly, anything.

Imagine the next time that bi-annual car insurance bill arrives in the mail: you open it, looked at the total and reach for your checkbook, knowing that the entire amount is there, just waiting to be paid. Whew! Sound too easy? It doesn't have to be. Setting up, and living by, a good budget can free you of the stress and chaos of juggling paychecks and credit cards to meet the bills. It's a way for consumers to break free from the bondage of debt and have the money for the fun stuff , without the worry of how to pay for it later.

What else can a budget do for you? Here are 5 important benefits of budget-based living:

1: Following A Realistic Budget Helps Free Up Cash For The Fun Stuff.
Budgets aren't designed to deny the user from doing or having the things that are important to them. Budgets are an excellent tool to help stop wasting funds on little things that you don't need, but sure can add up! For instance, one smart budgeter realized that if she just bought her favorite soda from the grocery store and took it to work with her instead of buying it from the machine, she could pocket nearly $400.00 a year! She took that soda money and used it for a weekend at her favorite spa! Instead of denying her of her favorite soft drink, her budget simply alerted her to an unnecessary expense, which ultimately allowed her to use that money for something she really wanted, yet didn't think that she could afford.

2: A Budget Helps You Prepare For Emergencies.
Eventually something big is going to beak and need replaced. It may be a $400 washing machine, or it could be a $20,000 car. Are you ready for the inevitable? Budgets allow the user to see where their money is going, and to help them better equip them to both save for emergencies, and clearly see where changes can be made if an unexpected expense comes up. When Bob was suddenly laid off from his job, he and his wife Nancy had very little saved, but they used their budget figures to immediately see what temporary cuts could be made to get them through a few lean months with very little stress and worry.

3: A Budget Can Both Get You Out of Debt; and Keep You Out Of Debt.
The average American household owes more than $9,000 in credit card debt. That doesn't even begin to account for the hundreds of thousands of dollars we each carry in additional mortgages, car, and student loans debt. Owing money is an American epidemic. It has even been cited as the #1 reason for divorce in the United States. Creating a budget the whole family can live with, will ease the burden of debt on the American household by teaching everyone in the household how to curb their overspending habits and live a more sensible, and stress-freeing financial life.

4: Budgets Teach Responsibility.
We see in every magazine, on every billboard, and in every commercial: you want it, you deserve it, go get it - no matter what the cost. The instant gratification of American credit has taken a severe toll on our sense of responsibility. After all, we can buy now, and pay later, much later, so who needs to think responsibly? Unfortunately, those bills eventually come due, and many people aren't ready for them. Budgets help reign in over spenders, and teach them real financial responsibility.

5: A Budget Eases Stress.
Money concerns are a top stress inducer in today's over indulgent society. It has been reported however, that those who live by a budget experience less stress in their daily lives. Surprisingly, that was true for both minimum wage workers, as well as high-income workers. It didn't seem to matter how much (or how little), income a household reported, the fact that they knew how to best spend their money seemed to play a significant role in the stress they reported in their overall life.

Creating a budget may seem like an exercise in futility to some, but the statistics are clear: budgets are good for you! What do you have to lose except for a little worry? Try one and see what unexpected benefits you find yourself reaping.
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