Setting Up a Budget Can Help Atlanta Residents Lower Debt and Start Saving
You know how when you hear something a million times, you start to tune it out? I think we've started to do just that when it comes to the b-word.
I'm talking about a budget. The advice is true - a budget really is the most effective way to start saving so that you can pay down credit card debt, loans or other obligations and eventually use your money for the things you really want: a house, a nice vacation, some spending money, college for your kid and a comfortable retirement. But the problem is, Atlanta consumers have heard so much about the benefits of budgeting, they've become sort of meaningless to us.
Sure, setting up a budget takes a bit of work, while ignoring the need to budget doesn't. But you'll pay a price - i.e. more money wasted each month - for taking the easy way out. Whereas with just a little effort, a budget can help you reap long-lasting rewards.
In the long run, a spending plan actually makes life easier. That's because a budget illuminates your current spending habits and shows you what path you can take to improve your spending in the future. It's like GPS for your finances.
All you have to do to get started is add up the last few months of your expenditures - everything from gas to groceries to the mortgage and utilities. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, and it's really not that bad. Yes, you'll probably have to rummage for a few receipts, but you can view a lot of your transactions on your statements and bills.
Next, it's time to analyze your spending habits. For example, maybe you're surprised to see you're shelling out $50 a month on mochas and lattes. All those $3 drinks add up. If you so wish, you could cut out your coffees - or even just reduce them by half - and have more money to pay the cable bill. Or maybe you could do without cable - or coffee - and use that money to pay down a bit more credit card debt, which will save even more in the long run. Nobody can tell you what to give up - or not give up - except you. Budgeting doesn't have to mean you're going frugal, or giving up all fun. It's just a way to show your options.
Now maybe you're concerned that budgeting is too hard - you think it's over your head. But you don't have to be a genius to have a spending plan, especially today. I stink at math. That's why I used the budgeting software that came with my laptop. You can also find free programs online, like Mint.com, that practically do all the work for you.
Then there's that other obstacle - debt. If credit card debt, tax debts or other obligations are cutting into your savings attempts, bankruptcy might offer a solution. A bankruptcy plan can give you more affordable payments and provide legal protection from creditors. Want to know more? How about signing up for a free personal debt analysis with an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney? After all, the only thing you have to lose is your debt.