People love to bad-mouth budgeting. A budget is too restrictive, they argue. It’s depressing, they moan. But how’s not being intimately familiar with your inflow and outflow of cash working for you?
If the numbers don’t add up, go back in there and cut some things. If the numbers are telling you that you can’t live alone, you might need to consider a shared-housing situation. Your budget isn’t your enemy. It’s your guiding light.
• Not opening your bills right away.
I have worked with people who come to a budgeting session with stacks of bills unopened. In one case, a utility company had scheduled to shut down someone’s service that very day. It took just one call to explain the crisis the person was in to reverse the decision. You’ve got to face the truth of the financial chaos you’ve created.
• Not paying off credit cards each month.
Stop using credit to live your best life. If you have any credit cards with balances, spend this year and however many more years it takes to get rid of that debt. Don’t charge another thing.
While you’re paying down the cards, don’t cancel them. Just take them out of your wallet — all of them. For many of you, even my suggesting that you not carry the plastic is causing you palpitations right now. You protest: “What if I have an emergency?” And that is why you need a rainy-day fund. If you can’t pay off your credit card balances each month, you are in over your head financially.
• Not being able to say no.