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Stress-Relief Kit: Budgeting for Peace of Mind

This DearSugar feature is all about ways to understand, limit or manage stress. It's also meant to help you be prepared for stressful situations (thus the kit) and to know how best to care for yourself during the worst of it. And we can't talk about stress without talking about cash. We all deal with money worries, a bad money habit, or hopes that outnumber the dollars in our savings account, if we have a savings account.

For more information and an easy budgeting tool

The first, best tool for eliminating money stress is to make and keep a budget. We're always talking on this site about honesty and responsibility . . . well, there's no reason to put one's head in the sand about spending habits, especially if we don't respect that tendency anywhere else in our lives. But who has the time to sit down and make that budget tool? Well, the Consumerist does. I bring you the link to a downloadable excel budget template, all set up and ready to go! The link will direct you to a 9-Step Beginner's Budget, where you'll get a set of instructions for the excel grid, too.

It's one step toward a little more peace of mind and awareness, and toward creating the life you want. Anybody have a great budgeting trick or a story about kicking a bad money habit? We could all use a little inspiration!


Join The Conversation
kendallina kendallina 10 years
This could not have been posted at a better time. I just moved in with my fiance and realized how many bills and loans he has. He needs help in budgeting and I think this tool will help him out a lot.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
DearSugar, thank you for posting about this! I think learning how to manage money is a really important skill and yet we're not ever really taught how best to do it. I remember when I was in High School, my civics teacher had someone come to our class to talk about credit cards. He set up this scenario: Say you take your family on a Hawaiian vacation that costs $5,000, and you charge it on your credit card. If you only pay the minimum monthly payment, how long do you think it will take you to pay the trip back? I forget exactly, it was something like 40 years!! I think it was one of the best lessons I ever got and because of it, I didn't get a credit card until I was 24 and needed it to establish credit to qualify for renting this apt. I always pay the balance because I'm afraid of the compounding interest. I have witnessed both friends and family members get into the habit of charging just a little more they can pay off, and the next thing they know, they're in 10,000 of debt and they don't know HOW they got there. On average, these aren't poor people either. They are just people who like to live slightly above their means and have bad habits with money. I could go on but I'll spare you. I will say that I agree that getting a handle on your financial situation can cause lots of peace of mind.
MuppetsForDinner MuppetsForDinner 10 years
One tip: If you are prone to spend, use CDs (certificate of deposit) to save. You earn a better interest rate then savings account and they lock your money for a fixed period of time. This is helpful when saving for a big upcoming purchase (like tuition, car downpayment, etc). However, before you commit your funds, make sure that you will not NEED that money until the maturity date. There can be big time fees for withdrawing money early.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
we have something similar to this. my husband likes to see where every penny goes. my personal style is if i want something i try and go without in other areas to get the item i'm wanting. frankly as we have gotten older material things are eaiser to get but have less meaning. i don't care about having a new coat every winter or the latest boots. i do care about my girls having piano lessons, so there you go. it was tough when i was single and needed everything (kitchen items, linens, etc). in retrospect i should have bought the kitchen stuff at garage sales and the gotten my not favorite linens from the mark down bin. but live and learn. when we were first married i got so mad because dh ate out everyday. finally i realized (somewhere about the 3 year mark) that i am not going to win that battle. that's not somewhere he was willing to compromise and i had to let it go. a budget needs to be realistic to both parties or it's worthless. i also think it needs to be reviewed frequently to make sure it's working for your needs.
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