Mention the "b" word, as in BUDGET, to a friend and they'll look at you like you have a third eye growing from the middle of your forehead. For most people the word budget too often carries negative meanings such as limits, restrictions, living on an allowance, giving things up, no shopping, no fun.
Unfortunately, the point they're missing is that a budget doesn't limit you but instead gives you freedom. That's right -- FREEDOM. The words "budget" and "freedom" are not mutually exclusive, once you understand what a budget can do for you.
Having and using a budget will give you direction. Your budget is your personal map of how you're going to move financially from "point A" to "point B" and so on. Would you like to pay off your credit card debt? Buy a new house or car? Save for retirement? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then let me ask you one more -- how are you going to do it? What's your plan?
Let's take a look at paying off your credit card debt. You've decided to lower your debt by adding an extra $20 to your monthly payments. Great idea -- as long as you can afford it and you stop using your credit cards. However, you won't know if you have the extra $20 if you don't know what your monthly expenses are from the start. With a budget you may find that you can actually afford more and pay off your debts faster. You'll have the freedom to use your money more wisely and achieve your goal.
What about buying a new house or car? If you don't have a budget, you won't know how much you can pay for a house or a car payment. Make that mistake and you'll get a visit from the repo man or you'll find yourself in foreclosure. Your budget gives you the freedom to make an informed decision.
How about saving for retirement? Unfortunately most of us don't consider retirement savings until we're into our forties or even fifties. Imagine if only we'd been smarter, had a budget, and started contributing toward our retirement when we were 10, 20, or 30 years younger?
Having a budget doesn't limit you. It gives you the freedom to make informed financial decisions, allows you to use your money more wisely, and helps you achieve your financial goals more quickly and easily.
James is editor of "To Your Credit," a free weekly newsletter with tips to help you manage your personal finances. Subscribe today and receive his ebook Identity Theft -- How To Avoid Becoming the Next Victim! and other free bonuses by visiting http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com.© 2005 James Dimmitt
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