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HELP AVOID PROBLEMS OF CONSUMER DEBT - KNOW WHAT IS IN YOUR BUDGET

Attorney Hale Andrew Antico

Wednesday, February 23, 2005



HELP AVOID PROBLEMS OF CONSUMER DEBT - KNOW WHAT IS IN YOUR BUDGET

As an attorney that specializes in consumer debt, I see a lot of people's personal finances during the free consultation. A common problem is that they have no idea what they spend each month and don't realize they're often spending more than they earn.

When you are sick, you pay careful attention to the medicine that the doctor prescribes. When you're on a diet, you pay attention to the food you eat and weigh yourself every day. Yet most of us don't track how much we spend each month. You may know how much you spend on fixed bills like rent, but chances are that you don't know to the nearest $100 how much you spend in total.

A budget is essential to taking control of your finances. Maybe there is a place you can tighten your belt. Maybe there isn't. How do you know where to cut back if you don't even know what you're spending?

Try this for one week (or better yet, for a month): you don't need to track every penny, but why not track every dollar you spend during the day? Save your receipts and jot down your daily expenditures. Keep a running tab so you know your month-to-date spending every day. When given a choice, use your debit card, not cash. Keep your debit receipts to make tracking easier and to make your spending more visible.

The biggest enemy of spending control is the ATM. You'll be surprised how many "little things" gobble up those $40 withdrawals: cash for Starbucks here, cash for a bagel there. You then pay with cash as you go out for lunch, and there goes another $10 and it's not even 2 p.m. yet!

Once you make the commitment to track your spending, you can see where you can cut back if you need to. Give yourself an allowance of spending money: one ATM withdrawal of cash per week. Make that $20 or $40 last the whole 7 days. Make the commitment to spend no more cash than absolutely necessary. And continue to track each dollar.

You can't fix the problem until you know what the problem is. Knowing your spending can help you cut back where there is waste. Most importantly, adjusting your spending can help you meet your ultimate goal of saving money to pay off your credit card bills, a down payment for your own home, or for your retirement.


[Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither HandelontheLaw.com, or any of its affiliates, shall have any liability stemming from this article.]


Source: Hale Andrew Antico, Esq.

Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.





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