New Year, New Budget

As the new year quickly approaches, it presents a good opportunity to look back at the previous year and examine the actual spending. Depending on your record keeping, this could be an easy task or a daunting one.

Take a look at what worked and what didn’t. If it didn’t work, why not? We are all faced with increased food and fuel prices. How did rising prices effect your overall budget? Did the rising prices lower your discretionary spending or like many, cut into the heart of the budget? In my family budget, we were hit with a dramatic increase in medical insurance costs. I am sure that we are not alone in this. These increases have left very little wiggle room.

My family will have to look for more ways to stretch our dollar. This will include shopping at the “selective item” stores such as Aldi, Save-A-Lot and Price Rite, prior to going to the bigger supermarkets to get specialty items. We will also have to think twice about driving out of town to the stores for items that can wait to reduce fuel costs.  Many of these things we are already doing, we are just going to have to look harder at how we can do more.

With busy work lives and hectic schedules, it is easy to fall back on restaurant meals. This is an area that can easily be reduced. For a family of 4, a restaurant meal can easily cost $40 to $70, so it is easy to see how that can interfere with the budget. Frozen pizza and generic soft drinks can easily reduce the expense of a pizza night.

If you are doing better or expecting more income in 2011, consider paying down debt or saving the extra cash or both. If you are already comfortable at your spending level, it would be a great time to put some aside for your future. As witnessed these past couple of years, the future is an unknowable creature, so it is prudent to plan.

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season. I pray that your coming year is a prosperous one for you and your family, filled with love and attention. Take care, stay well and be safe.



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