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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/congratulations-dallas-youre-on-your-way-i-like-25082219.aspx

Subject:  Re: nebroots February budget Date:  1/24/2007  7:58 PM
Author:  OneupOnedown Number:  246059 of 308782

Congratulations Dallas! You're on your way. I like the way you're thinking in terms of how many billable hours some of the "extras" might represent.

The contract for this price ends Feb 20th. I plan to cancel the television, need the internet for work, and am up in the air on the phone.

I encourage you to keep the land line for your peace of mind. Your policy about a babysitter not having a cell phone turned on is a really good one - even though your current sitter doesn't have one. Your kids will soon be old enough to learn how to dial 911 in the event of an emergency.

My next point might be a little heretical on this board. As you're working out your budget and changing your thinking and increaasing your awareness of your spending, it can be useful to continue charging just one area; gas or groceries for example, while you focus on budgeting and paying cash every where else. It can help you get accurate numbers with less hassle. Of course, don't use this strategy for an area where you succumb to impulse spending and do use a credit card that you pay off each month.

I may get flamed for my next suggestion, since I am in debt paydown mode (after acute and very long extended illness, brief unemployment, getting set-up in a new job, getting promoted and moving expenses), but here goes. I find it hard to keep track of cash and pay almost EVERYTHING on a credit card (that I pay off every month). I found it much easier to learn where money was going and where to trim my budget than by saving receipts and filling out spreadsheets. It works for me in part because I have a high and variable level of reimbursible expnses (for which I do meticulously save receipts). For the rest of my expenses it works too. There are monthly variations but overall I'm well under budget so the variable I get to play with is how much excess over my snowball payment I will have. It's a positive reinforcement for me, deciding whether to add it to debt pay down or send some to my Efund.

The exception is some walking around money and money I budget for lunches which I withdraw from an ATM only once a month - and pay myself from weekly. I pay myself the same whether or not I'm traveling and the excess each week goes into a glass jar and is the only source I currently have for splurging. For me, if I have to break a $20 I'm much less likely to make those myriad small purchases that are easily forgotten. And it is REALLY gratifying in those weeks when I brown bag every day and the same crisp twenties are still in my wallet on Friday!

Just trying to give an example of an alternative - and emphasize that you'll experiment and find what works for you, both in terms of tracking and positive reinforcement.
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