If you sometimes feel your finances are controlling you, instead of the other way around, you are not alone. A recent commercial for a financial management service stated that 60% of Americans are in debt. Of course that figure is probably overly dramatic, because it takes the tack that all “debt” is bad, and of course that’s not true. Most people have a credit card and a car loan.
Debt, per se, is not usually the problem. The problem is overspending and allowing the debt to become overwhelming. While there are many services available to help pay off credit cards, get out of debt, declare bankruptcy, etc., most of these services do not address the underlying problem.
If you have a problem living within your means, you need to address that basic problem, rather than just trying to deal with your debt. Yes, you need to deal with your debt, but your spending needs an overhaul, as well.
One of the biggest problems many people have with controlling their spending is that they don’t even know how much they spend, or on what. Start keeping a journal of everything you buy, even a candy bar or pack of gum. Keep track of all of it for at least two weeks. The idea is to get a handle on what you’re doing with your money. For many people, this awareness is enough to help them overcome their spending problems.
If you continue to have problems controlling impulse spending, consider giving control of your checkbook and credit cards to your spouse or partner, and just carrying the cash you need. This is a great way to stay out of trouble.
While controlling your spending is not the only thing you need to do to make sure your outgo stays in line with your income, it is a very good first step. Once you’ve conquered any impulse and unnecessary spending, you can look at reducing regular expenses, consolidating debt and other techniques for getting your financial house in order.