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Responsible Budgeting, Spending and Credit Use: Mint’s Personal Finance Round-Up

 

photo: AMagill

Times are still tough, and many of us need an inspiration to start a budget, or to keep working on one.

Some of us also need to change how we spend our money, or take stock of how we use our credit cards. Truth is, a good number of families get into debt because of misusing their credit cards.

For this week’s personal finances roundup, we have eight stories of frugality and budgeting that should get us into thinking about our spending habits.

Back to School Budgeting

With the summer over and the school season upon us once again, Budgets Are The New Black asks how much an average family spends on back-to-school shopping. There is a poll for readers to guess what the average family’s annual spending should be towards school and education. The results are surprising; it may make you think about your own spending for back-to-school “needs.” Our suggestion: if it’s not a dire need, teach your kids to save a little and cut back on some purchases.

Kids and Money

When it comes to teaching your children about money, it’s a good idea to start early. Trent from The Simple Dollar talks about how his son recently bought a toy without throwing a tantrum, and instead worked towards buying the toy he wanted by saving up his allowance and family gifts. An Ode to My Son’s Piggy Bank is an inspiring read for those who wonder about how to begin talking to their kids about personal finance.

Big Life Changes: Adjusting Family Finances

Speaking of family budgets, let’s take a look at an article by Funny About Money, who initiates a thought-provoking discussion called Scraping by on $110,000? The article refers to the common issues faced by a two-income family that’s going through the adjustment of living with a new baby. Here, a wife decides to work part-time in order to take care of her child. Funny About Money looks at how far a six figure income can go and how the cost of living can impact your income requirements. Such life changes can make us rethink the way we spend. It may be a good idea to evaluate our own spending and assess the major “leaks” and the frivolous things we can do without. Also, what are your strategies for maximizing what you’re earning?

Couple’s Money: Joint, Separate, or Both

Along these lines, Punch Debt In The Face shares the story of how he and his wife are working through their recently combined budget in The $100 Discussion. They’re trying to work out how to give each other room to spend on wants and frivolities. They are considering several schemes, including setting a spending cap that each should honor without the need for extra discussion. So should they cap the spend-as-you-like allowance at $100? Or should it be lower? It’s certainly food for thought for couples who have combined their bank accounts.

Responsible Credit-Card Use

If we really think about it, one of the reasons why many of us struggle financially is due to our heavy reliance on credit cards. We become complacent about our expenses and find it easy to spend because we’ve got credit we can use. If you’re of this mindset, using plastic may not be the wisest thing. While credit cards are a useful financial tool, it’s important to learn how to use them responsibly so that you don’t get into trouble. Investor Junkie discusses Responsible Credit Card Use and offers tips on how to deal with credit wisely.

Reigning In Purchases

Speaking of using credit cards responsibly… or not, Living Almost Large reviews the book (and movie) Confessions Of A Shopaholic and concludes that it’s a bit over the top. The question here is — how do you use your credit cards? Do you use them for groceries or emergencies, or to fund shopping sprees? Typically, we incur debt gradually due to unexpected financial hardships and emergencies, although there’s a smaller percentage of people who get into trouble due to a shopping addiction.

So how do you break a shopping addiction? Here’s a tip for shopaholics who enjoy brand name merchandise. It’s a matter of perspective: factory outlets for designer brands carry the same quality wares that you normally expect to buy in department stores, but at a lower price. Yes, there may be some items that will contain a defect or two, but if you choose well, you could walk away with a “perfect” designer original from its factory outlet. You’ll find other frugal tips on fashion in Keeping Clothing Costs Down from Savings.com.

Getting Out of Debt

The Happy Rock shares an inspiring anecdote about a friend who resolves his $40,000 debt in Into Debt And Out Again – Overcoming $40,000 Of Debt. This story will inspire those who are struggling with bills and debt and show them just how they can become debt free again, sharing both the financial mistakes and successes of one individual.

Anyone can live a frugal lifestyle — you just have to put your mind to it. These stories are here to help reaffirm this truth and beef up our resolve to keep our expenses under control.

Silicon Valley Blogger (SVB) runs The Digerati Life and The Smarter Wallet, where she writes about  general personal finance topics such as investing, budgeting, debt management and small business ideas.