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Save Face, Manage Cents

May 13, 2010

Cindy Battles

I’ll admit, there was a time when I couldn’t balance a checkbook. I remember my dad asking, “Cin, how can you control what has to go out if you don’t write down what’s coming in?” All I had to do was to start implementing the simplest of structures: In/Out expenses by the month. Do you think I listened?

My dénouement: one night I was in the supermarket and got my groceries up to the checkout and swiped my debit card when… “DENIED” popped up on the screen. “Um, miss, can I put back the avocados, chocolate chip cookie dough and the Grape Nuts?” Can you spell mort-i-fied

I realized — the hard way — it was high time to structure my expenses and institute a monthly budget. 

Since then, I faithfully manage my checkbook to the dime so I don’t deplete my debit account like that again. No need to go public with your debts!

How you can avoid this: one book I ran across in the library really makes it easy — and ease of use is what the novice budgeter is looking for because, after all, at the start, it can seem a bit overwhelming (and frankly, I find Quicken just plain intimidating!). But The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook  (by Judy Lawrence) makes structuring your finances a snap with all kinds of useful tips and tools. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

  • Create a simple, functional system for managing your finances, with or without financial software
  • Navigate the latest developments in the paperless world of electronic banking
  • Discover the freedom of being able to achieve your personal and financial goals
  • Make a plan to pay off debt and plan for the future

Don’t get me wrong, The Budget Kit is not fun. It will require a few hours of planning, categorizing and recording your spending each and every month. Judy even helps you get organized for tax time so you can get a jump on 2011. Most importantly, the relief you’ll feel to have a better grip on your finances is worth the effort. No more embarrassing supermarket checkouts!

Actually, I didn’t need that cookie dough anyway.

Cindy

Cindy Battles is a freelance writer based in Rutland, VT, winner of the National Disability Institute’s 2008 Blog Contest and a regular contributor here on the Real Economic Impact blog.

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