If you want to control your finances, you can't let them control you. You gain control by making wise day-to-day choices, following the path towards long-term goals and by building a foundation of necessities, such as insurance and emergency savings.
In order to do any of these things - make choices, realize goals or save - you have to budget. I know it doesn't sound fun. But it is the one way to achieve financial success.
Start by thinking about it this way - by sticking with your plan, you will gain more than you ever expected. Budgeting will allow you to realize your goals. You will have more money to spend in the long run.
No matter how much or how little you make, budgeting is essential. If you already think you know where your money goes without writing it down, try writing it down for one month. You will be surprised at what those pennies are adding up to be.
Budgeting lets you know where your money goes. You are managing it. You are able to start saving for a home, for college and for retirement. You can even find room for that trip to Hawaii.
Someone said once, and I really like the idea, that you can't just make more money to have more money. You have to spend less than you make.
I will admit that software programs make it nice to track a budget. I used one for years to track our spending through our checking accounts. Not only can you easily balance your checking, you can print out reports that divide your spending into categories. You can easily print out the totals of your tax deductions. Many programs even allow you to scan your tax receipts in for safe keeping.
We no longer use the program, due to my husband wanting to help with the financial management. He is uncomfortable with computers. So we keep log books instead. The key to tracking your expenses isn't necessarily to write down everything you spend when you spend it. It is to ask for and keep all of your receipts for things. If you don't get a receipt, you'll have to write it down.
So either way, take the time to add up all of those spending categories. For example, a daily cup of coffee can cost you $547 a year. If you smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, you are spending approximately $3000 a year. If you eat your lunch out every day, you could spend around $2,600 a year. Three drinks after work once a week can add up to $1092.
Cut all those things out and you could save over $7000 a year. That's a lot of money. Did you know that coffee, cigarettes, lunch and drinks were costing you that much money?
By budgeting and tracking your spending, you are able to see the areas you can cut back on. You may find that you don't have to sacrifice very much to achieve your goals. After all, what is more important, putting $7000 a year into your retirement savings or keeping up with your current spending habits?
Martin Lukac represents http://www.RateEmpire.com and http://www.1AmericanFinancial.com , a finance web-company specializing in real estate and mortgage rates. We specialize in daily updates, mortgage news, rate predictions, mortgage rates and more. Find low home loan mortgage interest rates from hundreds of mortgage companies!