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Tips for the budget phobic

Tips for the budget phobic
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Would you rather eat cockroaches than write a budget? If you've clicked on the link to get here then you really know in your heart of hearts that you need a budget.

It really isn't rocket science, but if you just can't face it, try using some of these tips:

Learn from dieters
Think of dollars and cents as kilojoules and don't eat all your money. Every dollar you spend is going to end up on your hips. Your rent or mortgage payments and utility bills are your healthy choices, and unnecessary spending is the chocolate and cream donuts.

Start with a detox, and then move onto a more sensible diet for the longer term. Remember to include some exercise. That may be looking for additional income streams, or simply reading an easy book or two about personal finance.

Fool yourself
Rather than creating a budget. Why don't you just sit down with your bank statements, categorise your spending under food, clothing, utilities etc, and work out how your money is spent each month. Once you've done this, you'll know what you're spending and you're actually two-thirds the way towards writing a budget.

Use graphs and charts
Graphs and charts are understandable even by budget-phobic people because they're images, not figures. Some bank websites such as the ASB's Track My Spending allow you to assign categories to your spending and view graphs and it only takes a few minutes. Or you can do it with personal finance software such as Quicken Personal, GnuCash and

Try bucket budgeting
With this budgeting-lite method you set up three or four different accounts at the bank: for spending, saving, and fixed bills such as rent and power. Allocate a set amount to each account each payday and have it credited to the right account automatically.

This is far quicker than meticulously tracking every cent you spend. If your bank can't do this, then ask your payroll department.

Have a splurge day
Let your hair down and buy lunch, have coffee or give yourself a small treat on your splurge day. Be careful not to use this day to spend up all the savings you've made from the rest of the week.

Tackle bite-sized chunks
Attack only one area of your spending at once and if you can, wait 30 days — that's how long it takes to overcome a habit — before tackling another area.

Start with something easy like reducing the number of bought lunches.

Reprogramme your thinking
Budgeting isn't about going without. It's about doing something positive for your financial situation or your family. It's much easier to budget when your cup is half full.

Get a buddy
Admit to a friend that you need to budget and go through your spending together with a fine-tooth comb. Ask your friend to help keep you honest. It really works. Budgeting ensures that you have more money at the end of the month. It's really not hard to get started or to refine your existing budget.

Try turning the TV off for one hour this week, getting your bank statements together and getting started. There's no time like now.

Your say: Do you have any good budgeting tips?

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