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Be Money Smart Starting Now – 5 Things You Should Not Buy to Keep Your Budget Balanced

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Overspending

Overspending can be conquered

Image Source: Flickr User Bill Rice

For most people, overspending is not usually the cause of terrible debt – but once you’re in debt, spending more than you should makes everything worse. Most clients that come to use for bankruptcy debt relief had a big event that caused their money woes such as divorce, accident, illness or unemployment. It can be hard to stick to a budget when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but controlling spending is key. Here are five things you should not buy to keep your budget in line.

#1 Books, music, games and movies

The great thing about iPads and tablets is that you have instant access to anything you want to play, listen to, watch or read. The world is at your fingerprint, but that can lead to a stack of charges on your credit or debit card. Stick to free versions of apps (there are so many) and free music streaming like Pandora.

For movies and books, consider tapping your local library. Most libraries now stock new release movies, and books are always free. Plus, libraries are getting tech savvy, and you may be able to get books, magazines, and audio books online in digital format for free as well. This can save you hundreds (or even thousands) a year depending on how much you spend on entertainment.

#2 New clothes at department stores

Clothing can cost a fortune, and you have to wonder how full do you need your closet to be? Cheaper clothes are more affordable but won’t last as long as nicer brands, but those are spendy. Why not shop around for a consignment shop or thrift store in an upscale area that gets nice brands, gently worn for very little cash.

There’s no need to drop a fortune on clothing, and this strategy can keep you dressed nice for work and socializing without breaking the bank. Also, consider clothing swaps with friends where you clean out your closet and swaps outfits with them, so you have fresh duds for completely free. Hand me downs are also great for the kids.

#3 Convenience store goods

Your corner store is the worst place to buy almost anything. Snacks, drinks, grocery items and alcohol can be 50% to 500% more than they are at the grocery or big box store. Try to break any habits like this you have – this can wreck your budget. Starbucks is also a big spend item. Skip the coffee establishment and buy a good bag of coffee at home.

And buy bulk snacks at the store then make smaller bags of chips and crackers to keep in your car so you can snack while out without overspending. Also, the gas station attached to the grocery store usually has canned and bottled drinks at much lower prices than traditional convenience stores if you must grab a drink on the go.

#4 Premium hotels

Travel can be a lot cheaper if you shop wisely. You may think you can’t afford a trip to Disney because you’ve only priced the in-resort hotels that can run 10 times more than a nice hotel just outside of the park. Bargain price doesn’t necessarily mean your accommodations will be sub-standard. Use tools like Trip Advisor to check reviews.

This can help you balance price with quality. Also, consider trying all-suite hotels meant for travelers that have kitchens so you can stock up on drinks, snacks and maybe even whip up a quick meal in the room to save on expensive vacation food. If you try, you can travel and enjoy a vacation without crushing your budget.

#5 Technology

There will always be a bigger and more high-tech TV and a newer and flashier cell phone. But just because the ads tell you that you need one, doesn’t mean that you do. If your smartphone is still in good shape, don’t upgrade. And don’t fall for the “free” upgrade. The cell provider builds the cost into your contract by upping your monthly fees.

Instead, once your contract is up, why not switch to a no-contract provider like Cricket? You usually have to buy a cheap SIM card to swap over, and then you’re good and can save across the board. Try not to replace any of your appliances or tech (phone, laptop, TV) until you absolutely must because they’re no longer operational. This will save big bucks.

Final thoughts

While it’s true that some people do get into financial trouble from overspending, for most consumers, the money problems come from another issue and overspending worsens them. And if your financial issues are so great that you are only paying minimums on your credit cards, are paying bills late, and are living paycheck to paycheck, you need help.

Consider filing a North Carolina bankruptcy to get yourself debt free by the holidays. Chapter 7 can wipe out most of your unsecured debt and Chapter 13 can buy time to catch up on past-due debt like your car loan or mortgage. Contact the NC bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt now. Call +1-888-234-4190 for a free North Carolina bankruptcy consultation at one of our offices in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.

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