Make 2010 the Year of Financial Freedom with a Spending Plan

Sometimes it seems that the more ambitious the New Year's resolution, the more likely it is to fall by the wayside as the year progresses.

But, believe it or not, resolving to lower spending can be an exception to the rule. It all depends on how you tackle it.

Sure, the ideal budget works by meticulously tracking every check you write, credit purchase you make or dollar you spend. Just like a diet makeover, one of the best ways to truly change is to hold yourself accountable for every cent (or bite). But the problem is, it can also set you up for failure when the going gets too tough - and you give up.

Instead, why not start with an easier shortcut?

Rather than identify every single purchase, start by looking for the expenditures you can live without or don't even use. That means the extra cable channels you don't find time to watch, the DVD rentals gathering dust by your TV, the magazine subscriptions you forget to read, the membership at the gym you never go to, the land line that you never give out because you prefer using your cell phone, etc. It might seem hard to give up so much stuff, but here's the deal: cutting out some of the things you like will allow you to keep more of the things you love.

If you don't want to give up eating lunch out, vow to cook dinner at home more often - or give up those gourmet mochas at your favorite coffee shop. If you can't stand the thought of going without caffeine, try packing a lunch to save enough to cover your coffee habit (or better yet, brew your coffee at home and carry it to work in a thermos). Make it about trade-offs, not going without.

Ultimately, all budgets come down to a simple concept - you need to spend less money than you make. Most of us have debt because we've become trapped in the credit card cycle. We pull out the plastic because we don't have enough in our bank accounts - but then when our paycheck comes, we have to use it to pay off the credit card. Unless you're expecting a miracle or a lottery win, the only way to break the cycle is to cut out enough unnecessary expenditures (or lower the cost of necessary ones).

With just a few changes, you should be able to get out of the red and back into the black. And if you get stuck, don't give up - help is available. Bankruptcy can be one of the most effective ways to eliminate debt. Find out if a bankruptcy plan is right for you with our free one-on-one debt analysis. Let our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys put you on the path to financial freedom in the New Year.

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