Valdosta Daily Times


January 6, 2013

Budget Diary: Create a new “you”

VALDOSTA — It’s a new year, my dear budgeteers, and that means you can start fresh in the making of a new “you.”

Forget about your shameful escapades of New Year’s Eve, a new day has dawned and I don’t believe in psychics (I also don't believe in dinosaurs, I’ve seen the science and I don’t buy it . . . Bonus points if you know where this is from) but I do believe I see a future filled with fiscal responsibility that will show you the money!

So step up, buckle down and follow my advice per usual to make 2013 a budgeteer-tastic year!

1. Count your dollars like calories.

According to Ryan Seacrest, the number one New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. I source him because Ryan Seacrest is the foremost authority on everything. I mean c’mon, he practically invented the Kardashians.

Anyway, research has shown that if you keep a food diary habitually without fail, it will help keep you honest and keep your diet on track.

Why not apply that same rule to money? Whether you use a pencil and paper or an app on your iPhone, make sure you know where your money is going.

I keep track of my money on a free app called Expense Tracker — Spending Free. It is essentially an electronic check register. I input my income, and deduct every penny I spend under various descriptions.

Those expenses can be looked up in your history and even analyzed in graphs so you can see where the majority of your money is going.

Through this app, I learned that I was spending way too much money eating out. So, this year, one of my resolutions is to cook more (and healthier, of course).

2. Save money like your life depends on it.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas all packed into a two- month span, it can be easy to drain what little money you have saved.

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to kick your saving into gear. My number two resolution is to save more money.

I used to treat my savings account like a bill and I would pay into it every check. But with traveling to Chicago over Christmas, having an in-law get married, Christmas presents, Thanksgiving and birthdays of three family members, my savings quickly dwindled.

This year, I have vowed to always pay into savings every pay check even if I can only afford to put in $10. I have also set goal points for myself. I know how much I want to have saved in four months, six months, a year, etc. It’s always easier to work for something when you know what you are working towards.

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