Make a Plan and Stick With It

Back on Day 12 of 31 Days to a Better Bank Balance we categorized our spending into three categories: needs, wants, and high-priority wants as a step toward getting off the debt merry-go-round. We then prioritized those items into order of importance (based on what’s important in our own individual situations.)

Those are critical steps in getting out of debt, but they’re also critical to getting ahead and having a happy bank balance.

Basically, you’ve got to have a plan, and you’ve got to stick with it.

So for Day 23, we’re going to revisit that list and use it as a basis for creating a spending plan. A spending plan is simply a nicer way of doing a budget. It’s all about how much you both want to and are able to spend in your chosen categories. It’s about making sure that the things you want to do and buy actually happen. We’re going to do this in a few stages.

For today, write down all of the things you spend money on in general, and how much you’re spending on each category. Remember to include your irregular expenses as well.

But there are two things you shouldn’t include at this point: payments to credit card companies or to a HELOC if you are actively using them. That’s because you aren’t spending money on a credit card or a HELOC — you’re spending money on whatever you buy with the credit cards or HELOC. If you’re no longer using them and are just repaying debt, go ahead and include them in your list.

Here are several areas where you might be spending money to get you started. (Remember that you might have additional areas, and you probably won’t use all of these categories.)

Housing (rent or PITI if you have a mortgage)
Household repairs
Pest control
Groceries
Paper goods/toiletries
Household items
Internet
TV
Home phone
Cell phone
Electricity/Gas
Water
Postage
Yard care
Pool care
Netflix
Movies out
Snacks
Eating out
Travel
Hobbies
Events
Pet food
Vet bills
Car payments
Car repairs
Car maintenance
Gasoline
Car registration
Car insurance
Train or bus fare
Parking
Haircuts
Clothes
Doctor visits
Prescriptions
Dental visits
Eye care
Legal fees
Health club
Gifts
Donations
Allowances for kids
Blow money for adults
Tuition
Books
Student loans
Subscriptions
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2 comments

  • Are you using a program like mint to categorize or are you doing everything by hand?!

  • I categorize using Quicken and a spreadsheet, but I don’t have all of the categories listed and I doubt anyone else would either. On a related note, this isn’t the spending plan — it’s a step in getting to one.