I want to fix my budget, but I can't budge it!

Mortgage and Lending with RightTrac Financial Group MLS#: 988459

I can’t be out of money. I still have checks left.

It is an old punch line, but it is amazing how many people do not budget at all or fail to stick to a budget, if they start one.

That bain of the impulsive, budgeting, is critical for everyone if you want to buy a house, even for most wealthy people, before the purchase and after.

The daily paper of the ‘well off’, the Wall Street Journal, did an article on ‘The Best Way to Stick to a Budget’ recently (Monday 6/10/13).

There was a time when most everyone religiously used, tracked, and balanced their checkbooks every month. Remember those days?
Then debit cards came along and, I guess, that was the beginning of the decline of the instant record keeping that checkbooks engendered. It was harder to keep track of a ‘card swipe’ and harder still to remember ‘all those transactions’ when you got home. That is the excuse many used, including me at one point in my life. You know what happens then, don’t you? Hello NSF!

I’m sure there is a personality trait correlation to saving or not saving. Some are simply better budgeters than others.

According to the article, financial planners are divided on what is best for budgeting. Continuous tracking or short term tracking and reflecting?

One is like ‘stepping on a scale every day’ while short termers say people won’t keep up detailed, focused budgeting. They will fall off the wagon. The goal is to get you into better budget and savings habits.

I say whatever keeps you focused and goal oriented. Delayed gratification – doing without now for something later is at the essence of saving. It is also a foreign concept to many Americans.

One good thing the Great Recession did was bring back some old fashioned savings habits. I know. It is hard to do.

But don’t give up! In the digital age….there is.... digital help!

Mint.com. – Quicken – You Need a Budget – Pearbudget.com are all budgeting software aids. I’m sure there are more.

There are now probably some nifty mobile apps as well. Just tracking what you spend can be eye opening. Sometimes, simple changes in behavior can bring significant results.

What kind of budgeter are you?

Posted by

Righttrac Financial Group's 30 plus years of invaluable industry experience, its strong lender relationships, and my own unique business background makes for a winning combination to give you the widest array and most effective resources possible to help you achieve your mortgage goals.

When you are looking for any type of a residential mortgage, you can reach me, Tom Halzack of RightTrac Financial Group:

cell: 203-260-3413

email: tom@rightracfg.com.

Questions and any type of inquiries are welcome! FREE, NO OBLIGATION PRE-QUALIFICATIONS are available for both consumers and Realtors' clients.

"Extraordinary Mortgage Solutions"


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Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

I'm hoping that my kids are the ones that benefit from watching me work on a budget. Peace of mind is a great thing. 

Jun 19, 2013 10:08 PM #17
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Thomas, great post. I have my parents to thank for teaching me to budget early on. Started saving for my first car at age 10 and by the time I was 16 paid cash. It's a lot more gratifying when you've waited and saved to buy something than charging it on a credit card and then stressing over the bill!

Jun 19, 2013 11:21 PM #18
Andrea HoffDomin
Florida Dream Homes Realty - Fort Lauderdale, FL
- in Real Estate always on your side!

Budgeting is a very good thing because if you don't do it you don't realize when you are underwater or you are going down.

During my time working in the mortgage department in a bank I recommended to my client to make their household book and to start this exercise a few month before they start to buy something big like a house and a car.

I also recommended them not to calculate very possible dime like refunds of the IRS or bonuses from their company into their income because these things can change from year to year but the loan payments are stay for a longer time period.

Some of my former customer listened some not. 

Jun 19, 2013 11:41 PM #19
Ymeki Stevens
Keller Williams Realty Partners - Woodstock, GA

Great article! The recession has definitely been an eye opener. It is so important to track what you spend your future depends on it.

Jun 20, 2013 12:19 AM #20
Theresa Akin

I like being able to keep track of our money by going on line. I also try hard to stick to a budget. There are only 2 of us and the 3 dogs in the household. I stick closer to the budget but my dear husband I can honestly say stays pretty close. We liked our Bud and he liked his Marlboro reds. Those two are no longer in the budget and also not in the house. Whew! We are both much healthier for it, obviously. But we still keep track of our budget. Stopped in a convenient store the other day and saw a gal purchase a pack of Marlboro lights ($6.75 for a PACK). Last time husband paid for cigarettes and lit last one was 3!/2 years ago. He still wants one but has switched to large Snyder's Pretzel Rod's. We no longer spend almost $750.00 a month on vices anymore. He still maintains his 96 Ford F-150 and my 2004 Jeep which we purchase both used. His maintaining abilities saves a lot of money but he's good at picking out pre-owned vehicles. I hate monthly payments of any kind. So we try to keep them all to a minimum.  I check our account a couple times a week but still only run on so much cash per month. I just tell him before he wants to spend do we need it and if so then see if we need it this month or can it wait. I grew up in a household where one person wrote a check knowing the money wasn't in the bank but the check probably wouldn't clear til after the money was there. Sometimes the calculations were off and it was a hefty price to pay and would throw everything out of whack. We no longer have money for certain things because we just are not going to buy it. It has to be a real need. I've knocked our grocery budget down to around $350.00 a month and that does include some eating out or take out. Eat outs and take outs usually is the next days brown bag.

Jun 20, 2013 12:25 AM #21
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

nice story Thomas, thanks

Jun 20, 2013 01:08 AM #22
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

What's a budget? That's me. Just say no to check book registers that balance!  I was laughing because I haven't written in one for years now.

Jun 20, 2013 01:26 AM #23
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I use online banking and paying everything by credit card. Credit card statements categorize your debts and sums it up every statement. Hopefully, an app will come along so you can upload your all of your credit card statements and it will automatically populate the categories and fields so you know exactly how much money you're spending at a glance.

Jun 20, 2013 01:29 AM #24
Michael J. O'Connor
Diamond Ridge Realty - Corona, CA
Eastvale - 951-847-4883

In the vein of saving money, everyone should try "Gas Buddy" which provides semi-real-time gas prices as reported by other users.  You can save a ton of money just by making sure to pick the best gas price along the routes that you travel on a regular basis.

Submitted to you by a continuous tracker.  ;-)

Jun 20, 2013 01:34 AM #25
Keith Whited
RE/MAX Gateway - Alexandria, VA

Excellent advice for most. Somehow, I have been lucky enough to never have needed a 'real' budget.

I can't remember the last time I actually 'balanced' a check book. I made sure I never overdrew my account by 'rounding up to the next dollar' the entry for every check I wrote. Every year or so I'd write a check to myself for a grand or so from the balance that gradually built up - a little like putting spare pocket change in a jar every night - yeah, I did that too.

I'm a rather conservative spender and somehow, with a few minor exceptions in really down markets have always stayed ahead of the curve - - keeping all bills paid, a sterling credit history and enough real estate and other investments to hopefully retire comfortably in a few more years.

Actual budgeting just never worked for me.

Jun 20, 2013 02:50 AM #26
Stephanie Joines
BHHS Florida Properties Group - Clearwater, FL
Professional Commitment, Personal Solutions

Came in to real estate after 22 years in banking, so I know all about the checkbooks and budgeting.  Great post!

Jun 20, 2013 03:35 AM #27
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I am not a great budgeter.  I do have a system.  Pay all the bills, charge nothing, live on what is left and if there seems to be a surplus over what we reasonably need for the month I put it aside for savings.  With irregulare income it is hard to budget.  We are feast or famine.  

Jun 20, 2013 04:27 AM #28
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team
Hi Thomas, great post! We do a budget every year and review monthly. We are running a business!
Jun 20, 2013 06:00 AM #29
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker
Team Linda Simmons, Enterprise, AL 36330 - Enterprise, AL
email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846

Budget - smudget....I've been "the Boss", i.e. biz owner since I was 20, and NEVER could stick to one. BUT, living pretty much Debt Free (only owe on a rental property and a few cards), so I guess I'm gettin'by.

Jun 20, 2013 06:21 AM #30
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I used detailed accounting on Quickbooks to track my personal finances and business finances.  Still it is easy to get carried away spending with those credit and debit cards.  So easy just to swipe away.

Jun 20, 2013 07:40 AM #31
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Keeping records and knowing what you have is a must. Ask yourself the question, "Do I want it or need it?"  Only buy what you need.

Jun 20, 2013 02:56 PM #32
Thomas Halzack
RightTrac Financial Group - Fairfield, CT
Extraordinary Mortgage Solutions

Interesting responses by all.

To those who say they do not keep a budget, but DON"T have financial problems...

you are keeping a running budget in your head....whether you know it or not!

Whatever works, right?

Jun 20, 2013 03:11 PM #33
Paddy Deighan JD PhD
TimeshareLawyers.pro - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

every time I work on a budget for a client, I look at my own budget and it is never the same twice!!!  One of these days i wil get it correct!!

Jun 20, 2013 05:17 PM #34
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

We all feel we need more than we really do. Like many other things in life, it's getting into the habit of saving and saying no to oneself.

Jun 21, 2013 10:59 PM #35
Gijs Van Breugel
TERRA FRANCE | International Estate Agents for France
TERRA FRANCE | International Estate Agents

The crisis has been an eyeopener everywhere. Balance and budget : I have stept of the lease and loan downward circle as we cannot be sure at this point when we will get our next check. So back to the old sock under the mattress...

Jun 23, 2013 05:22 AM #36
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