One good reason to endure the occasional drudgery of budgeting is that it alerts you to trouble while you still have time to do something about it. You're forced to find out why your expenditures are climbing and to take action.
If the electric or gas bill is higher because the rates were raised, you'll have to revise your monthly forecasts for that budget item and figure out whether other items need to be cut to pay for it. If rates haven't risen, maybe it's time to discourage the kids from taking such long showers two or three times a day.
Sometimes a budget flashes danger signals that are more difficult to interpret. If you start picking up distress signals, run your budget through these checks:
In short, you can't live by somebody else's budget.
Remember, too, that your budget is not etched in stone. Yes, you'll need a certain amount of self-discipline to stay within your spending limits, but you also have to be realistic.
For the next few months, keep close track of your spending -- even the pocket change spent on vending machine snacks or the morning cup of coffee. You'll likely discover that you forgot to account for something. Instead of getting angry because you blew your budget the first month, rethink your numbers and try again. The only way you can fail is by giving up.
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