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Setting and keeping a budget

FRANKLIN LIVING—Budget. Does even saying that word make you cringe?

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Truth be told, it’s a lot easier to break a budget than make it. So what’s the deal? What makes budgeting so hard (or at least seem that way)?

Typically when we try to budget, we take an “all or nothing”

Emily Mays

mindset. Most of us wind up failing very quickly – and developing an aversion to this budget business just as quickly.

Oftentimes we set ourselves up for failure because we don’t actually know how much we have to spend. We have an idea of what is available but not a realistic picture. Additionally, when we can buy just about anything with a few clicks, self-control in spending becomes an afterthought. Not to mention, everyone is so busy! We think budget means we have to stop and pull out the calculator, and nobody has time for that.

Everyone has trouble sticking to a budget – except maybe my mother, who considers it a personal challenge to beat her best power bill each and every month.

Before you start making strategic cuts to get your budget in line, take the all-important step of figuring out what you’re spending where. Sometimes we decide to “budget” and start cutting out the morning coffee run or eliminating eating out without taking into consideration how much we actually have to spend on these purchases to begin with – thus starting an endless cycle of failed budgeting.

To get your budget off on the right foot, start by breaking down your income and expenses. There are a lot of mobile app options available to help with this, or you can simply get a notebook and start making some lists. Keep up with what you’re spending on all your bills, such as mortgage/rent, gas, groceries, eating out, cell phone/internet, television, entertainment and kids’ activities. Get real and get it ALL down. Keep in mind, it might take more than one month to track everything, and that’s OK!

Knowing first what your disposable income is, after all your expenses, gets you the green light to start analyzing where you can make those strategic cuts in your spending habits. That’s precisely what we’re going to talk about next time.


Emily Mays is vice president/senior marketing director at Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, working in finance for 13 years. She is an enthusiastic social media marketer, financial literacy advocate and go local supporter. She lives in East Franklin and has one daughter, Lola, 10.

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