I have a problem with impulse spending. I switched to a debit card so that the money comes straight out of my checking account, but I still buy things I know I shouldn’t. Should I stop using the card? — Lauren
Debit cards are great. You can’t spend money you don’t have with them like you can with a credit card, but you’ve still got to budget carefully and give a name to every single penny of your income. Otherwise, you still can overspend.
When I made the decision to get intentional with my money, I just used cash. It’s hard to spend it when you don’t have any on you. It’s a tough thing, I know, but you have to make a conscious decision to start living differently. You have to get mad at the things that steal your money a dollar or two at a time, and you have to put your foot down.
Try looking at your life as a whole, not a moment at a time. All the moments you’re living right now will have either a positive or negative effect on your future. I decided I wanted the greater, long-term good, so I gave up on the short-term stuff.
Trust me, Lauren. The greater good is worth the sacrifice. But until you make that decision for yourself, you won’t do it. — Dave
In your mind, what’s the biggest thing a family can live without when it comes to getting control of its money and living on a budget? — Will
On a regular, day-to-day basis, I think maybe the biggest and best thing you can eliminate is eating out. There are always the shiny things people can do without. Sometimes people sell a fancy car or boat and get rid of a $600-a-month payment right off the bat. But it’s really not a good idea to be eating out when you’re broke. It really adds up.
I love a good restaurant, and I’ve got nothing against the industry. The problem, though, is that lots of people are struggling to pay their bills or set aside something for retirement because they’re eating out all the time. Most folks simply don’t realize how much money they throw away by heading to the drive-through for lunch or going out to dinner “once in a while.”
I want people to enjoy life, and a great part of that can be going out and having a meal with your family and friends. But if you’re experiencing financial issues, the only time you should see the inside of a restaurant is if you’re working there! — Dave
Should you budget for mad money, or just carrying around cash, when you’re trying to get out of debt? — Aurora
What really matters is the amount of mad money you allow yourself to have. Everyone needs a little pocket money. It’s probably not going to throw you off too much if you put $10 or $20 in there. But $100 or $200? That’s a bit much when you’re scrimping, saving and supposedly working hard to get out of debt.
Think of it as a safety valve, Aurora. Everyone needs a break and a little fun now and then. Whether it’s grabbing lunch out, or going to a movie once in a while, you need to relax and let off a little steam.
Just make it part of your regular monthly budget, and stick to the amount. Little things like this will help keep your total money makeover moving in the right direction without wearing you out! — Dave