Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

Part of our Bankruptcy Tuesday series

     We’re talking this month about budgeting. Why, you might ask, would I want to go to the trouble of making up a budget? Too many of us just pay our bills. We simply pull out a credit or debit card when we need to pay for something and never really think about where our money goes. That system (or lack of a system) may be OK for some people. But is there something that you’d like to buy that you don’t have the means to pay for now, such as a car or a house? Would you like to help your kids pay for college or their wedding? Do you have money set aside for your retirement? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, would you like to save some money to deal with emergencies? Unless you know what you currently spend your money on, it can be difficult to set aside money toward a future goal. At the very least, a budget allows us to prioritize our spending. Suppose your household food budget for a family of four is $1000 per month. It’s three weeks into the month, you’ve already spent $800, and you’re doing your grocery shopping for the last week of the month. You have all the essentials in your shopping cart ($180), and realize that you haven’t planned dinner for tonight. You could go to a restaurant or order takeout ($30-$70), buy enough steak for the family ($20), or you could buy chicken ($10). There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s a matter of priorities. Ordering takeout busts the budget, buying steak keeps you within budget (barely), and buying chicken allows you to put $10 toward savings (for a down payment on a car or house, for example). If you don’t have a budget, you have no idea how much you are spending or for what. You also aren’t thinking about the consequences of your dinner choices, and little or nothing goes into your savings. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Planning what to do with your hard-earned money requires a budget. We’ll discuss budgeting more in the coming weeks.


Last month’s Bankruptcy Tuesdays topic was on Tax Returns. Here’s a link to last week’s post if you would like to take a look:


For all Bankruptcy Tuesday posts, click here:


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