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Money Smarts. How to Live Within Your Means

Money Smarts

Money Smarts sure can help. Weirdly, money doesn’t include smarts about how to spend it.

Money Smarts — Of course, that’s not too much to ask.  And yet…

No matter how much you make, you may have been struggling a bit. Do you find it difficult to live within your means?

Maybe this Three Part article can help, starting with Part One today.

And even if you haven’t been struggling, expect inspiration.

Money Smarts. My Wake-Up Call

The IRS auditor sat right in my office. But no worries, Gladys wasn’t there to audit me. She’d made an appointment for a personal session, following a sweet feature story on my work in the Washington Post.

Since Gladys was the only IRS professional I’d ever met, I couldn’t resist asking her this question: “Do most people live within their means?”

“About 20% do not,” Gladys replied.

“Really? Are those people who don’t make much money?” I asked, figuring I already knew the answer. Success guaranteed having plenty of money, right?

That’s when Gladys really shocked me. “No,” she said, “I mean 20% of people in every income bracket. They spend more than they earn.”

Maybe you’re among that 20%, Blog-Buddies. Or maybe you struggle just a bit at living within your means. Wouldn’t you like to protect yourself financially?

Money Smarts? Hardly Universal

Maybe you live without credit card debt, etc.. But you’re hardly in the majority. For many of us, over-spending is a constant struggle.

Another possibility is that you don’t struggle exactly. Yet the prospect of budgeting makes you feel joyless.

As if some grownup… with a dingy aura… has told scolded you, saying, “You’re not allowed to have fun with your money. Instead you’ve got to be RESPONSIBLE!”

Could be, you really do wish to be responsible in how you manage your money. Only that’s hard, for one reason or another.

Look you’re probably ambitious in many ways: You want to look good. Feel good. Do work that’s meaningful. And also enjoy spending some of that well-earned cash.

Further, your ambitions might include financial goals, like saving for a comfortable retirement.

Money Smarts to Support All Your Ambitions

Oh, so many ambitions! And oh, so many temptations to spend money!

Hey, that’s par for the ridiculously complicated lives all of us are living today! Well, I’ve written this two-part article in order to help. Including a story that may stick in your mind and, weirdly, inspire you.

Money Smarts Start with Human-Based Smarts

Although I’m a big fan of energetic literacy and energy-based healing. Which can help to solve money problems.

Yet I’m also a realist. When  clients book sessions with me to help get their spending under control — what do I recommend?

Budgeting, that’s what. More people than you might guess… have never learned how to budget.

Maybe you’re among them. Could be, the parental unit wasn’t great at money management, so what they taught by example was distinctly unhelpful. And if a “How to Budget” memo was passed out in school, you were absent that day.

Well, no repining. If you haven’t yet found a budgeting method that works for you comfortably, that’s easily remedied. I’d recommend going onto Amazon and searching under “Books” for a budgeting paperback, one written by a financial expert; an expert who’s got an approach that strikes you as reasonable; an expert with a writing style that wins your trust.

Actually, you may be amazed to discover how many great budgeting how-to’s are available now. So browse away and then choose one. Purchasing that paperback, you’ll commit to moving forward.

Moving forward as a person who manages your money. Rather than a person who keeps receiving rude surprises. Which cause you to lament, “Why on earth did I buy that?” (Perhaps one of the ickiest feelings ever.)

Money Smarts Really Demand Budgeting

Fortunately, what happens once you begin? Developing budgeting skills can be surprisingly painless.

For instance, you might learn all you need to know in just 10 minutes a day. Aim to take those 10 minutes in the same place and time every single day.

You know, until budgeting becomes a regular habit like bathing — not that I suggest that you study money laundering. Definitely not!

Learning to Budget Can Be a Super-Easy Form of Personal Growth

Spend just a little time. Patiently develop that budgeting skill. Soon you’ll be rewarded with cumulative results.

All accomplished without bullying yourself!

Seems to me, that easy 10-minute approach is a great way to learn any  new skill. Of course, if you’re really enjoying yourself, some days you might choose to spend more than 10 minutes, in which case I won’t stop you.

Budgeting skills will bring clarity about how to manage your finances. Plus, you’ll gain a quiet satisfaction, knowing that you can keep your financial house in order. And this simple strategy will work whatever your income bracket.

While adopting new budgeting habits, that may feel uncomfortable, in which case you can probably chalk that up to adjusting. You can expect a great return-on-investment for that one little paperback book about budgeting.

Except what if that doesn’t quite work for you? What if you still can’t, can’t, can’t… manage to live within your means?

Well, that’s why this article has a Part Two, later a Part Three. Look for them soon. Meanwhile, comments now, anyone?

For instance, related to our last blog post about good advice versus bad advice... What kind of budgeting advice have you received before reading this article? Good advice or not so helpful?

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  1. 1
    Mel says:

    I like: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

  2. 2
    Ethan says:

    I agree with budgeting Rose and I’m all for financial responsibility but I’m not one to be frugal.

    Do you think frugal is on the other end of the imbalance? Like I have a friend who is great with money but so frugal they wear clothes that don’t fit and won’t buy new ones.

  3. 3
    Liane Sewell says:

    Something I read on the cover of a book caught my eye. Stop Fixing Yourself – And Actually Accelerate Your Personal Growth. The book is The New Strong.

    Those words have saved me lots of money – haven’t bought a single self-help anything since!

  4. 4
    Graham says:

    I like the Scottish saying: “Many a mickle makes a muckle” (to be spoken in a strong Glaswegian accent)…

  5. 5
    Graham says:

    I really appreciate the fact that you emphasise common sense first and foremost – solving human problems in sensible ways.

  6. 6

    Wonderful comments, everyone. 🙂

    But what’s a mickle? And what’s a muckle, GRAHAM?

  7. 7

    Regarding your Comment #2, ETHAN, yes.

  8. 8
    Graham says:

    I think that “Many a mickle makes a muckle,” is a Scottish version of the English saying, “Take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves.”

    A lot of ‘mickles’ add up to a ‘muckle!’

  9. 9

    Thanks for the clarification, GRAHAM. Now I can finally understand a lyric from “The Yeoman of the Guard,”

    “‘Tis but mickle Sister reaps.” (For my fellow G&S fans, it’s from the gorgeous quartet “When a Wooer Goes A’Wooing.”)

  10. 10
    Kylie Sparks says:

    This one is probably not such a good advice saying but I’ve definitely used this thinking before: “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

    Meaning that if you owe for a penny you might as well owe for a pound, since the penalties for non-payment are equally severe.

  11. 11
    Jesse says:

    Keep good records……which is one of the steps, I would imagine, of budgeting…

  12. 12
    Holly says:

    Here are two resources I have used in the past.

    Book: I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
    Blog: Get Rich Slowly by J.D. Roth

  13. 13
    Holly says:

    Ramit’s book will give you a “Set it and forget it” approach in a slightly abrasive voice. Automation is king here.
    J.D.’s blog will give you a lot of details on specifics such as how to save while you are getting out of debt.

    I customized Ramit’s system to suit me with details I saw on Get Rich Slowly.

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