Money Q&A: We're starting a budget for the first time. Got any tips?


The Nest Q&AMy husband and I are planning to start a budget in 2010. Are there any general guidelines to follow for this? This is our first time trying to maintain one!


Our budget advice is the same every year. It's simple common sense: Live within your means. When you make a budget, you’ll know your income and your expenses. Go over your spending with a fine-tooth comb. Here are a few things to help you start out:

  • Make sure you're not over-paying for services. If you don't watch premium channels on cable eliminate the package. Do you need a landline and a cell phone?
  • Look at your insurance policies. Often, increasing the deductibles brings down your premiums and may be worth the risk.
  • Check all your plans and policies and see if you're getting the best prices.
  • Allow for no credit card debt. Period. Get out of the debt you're in.
  • Plan for contributions to your savings account.
  • Change your shopping and buying habits. Think libraries and consignment stores.
  • Find ways to enjoy yourself every day. Pleasure is free. Life is short.

Nestpert Rosalynn Hoffman is the author of the financial advice book Bitches on a Budget, published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., and writes the blog BitchesonaBudget.com.

-- Rosalyn Hoffman

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