Empowered to do what you’d like to do and to be who you’d like to be.  All too often these days people, organizations, and ‘authorities’ are making all too many decisions ‘for your own good’.  If you’d like to retain or recover more of the ability to make your decisions based on your own values, you might want to ‘empower yourself’.  And you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it.

When you trade your efforts, creativity, or sweat equity for someone else’s money, it’s a transfer of value.  You’ve offered the value of your work and they pay you in currency or money for which you can expect the next person in the transaction chain to trade you for something that you value more than the money for which you worked.  Such is the business of trade.  When you more efficiently manage that value that you have worked for and earned, you get to keep more of it under your own control.  When you control more of your earned value, you can leverage it against things that matter to you more readily.

What, am I talking about?  I’m referring to a personal or family budget.  Okay, I can relate: we all have better things to do than spend quality time with our calculator.  But, if you could be more financially powerful, wouldn’t you choose to do so?  I don’t mean ‘rich’ necessarily, but having more money in your control that is not already promised to the bank that financed your house, your car, your last 4 visits to Amazon.com, or the people who supply your electric and phone services.  Wouldn’t having more money make more things possible for you?  That’s a powerful idea and you can make it yours.  The difference between ‘broke and in-debt’ and ‘wealthy and financially free’ is a different set of habits.  You can choose to learn them any time you’re ready.

I will say this about being rich though, ‘the skills that can generate enough extra income to pay back your debts and make you debt-free, are the same skills that can generate money beyond your current need that can begin to accumulate wealth and can eventually lead you to ‘rich’.  If you don’t currently have your own wealth, know this: wealthy people and rich people have skills in money management that many people just aren’t taught or don’t know to go looking for.  If you could learn those skills and start to move forward on that path, wouldn’t that be fun?

One of the skills that people who have money use on a regular basis is the skill of managing their money using a ‘budget’.  While some people will say (and often repeat) that a budget isn’t fun, it’s many times more fun than being broke and in debt, for certain!  A budget is in fact ‘the financial game that you write your own rules for’.  I don’t know how that hits you, but that sounds much more fun to me than ‘…still broke and in debt.’  I’ve been there before, and I neither want to live there nor go back to visit anytime soon.  A budget is a plan to move from one place to another using the resources at hand.  Many people like to travel and find it very fun to plan a vacation.  If you’ve ever done any vacation planning, you’ve done a budget; a plan to use available resources to accomplish a goal.

A budget is your plan to track your income and know what your available resources are, know what personal goals you want to make happen, and track your expenses and reserve enough money to service your commitments or ‘bills’.  When you can keep track of these budget components, then you can control them.  When you don’t keep track of these components someone you owe money to will control you.  That is not fun.

When you know what your resources are, you know what you can afford to do.  When you don’t know what your resources are, your wants and impulses can be in control and you might take on more expenses than you can easily handle.  I realize, ‘you don’t want to be limited…’  Nobody does.  Taking on more expenses than you can handle usually involves debt, which allows a finance company or a bank to take more of your money in the form of interest or penalties than what you wanted to pay for whatever it was that you traded for.  That is what’s limiting.  A budget can set you free.  Want $100 in your pocket for spending money every week?  Put it in your budget and plan around it.  Want more?  Plan for it and see how the rest of your expenses work with that as a goal.  If that doesn’t work with your income and expenses, you’re budget will tell you before you end up short and it costs you overdraft or late fees!  Using your own money for the things that you want, being free to decide what you can afford and what you can’t afford, and making a financial institution pay you interest so that THEY pay for a part of what you want to buy; that’s real freedom.  A budget is your ticket to that kind of freedom; and tickets come at a price.  What’s the price, a little organization and planning.

Before I leave this topic, let’s defuse one common emotional time-bomb.  Some people think that money is the root of all evil.  Consider this: if you have a job, what are you expecting come payday?  It’s not a pat on the back and a heartfelt ‘thank-you’, I’m certain.  When you head to the grocery store this week to prepare to feed your kids and take care of your family, what do you take with you?  The means to pay for things, trading value for value, is our currency system and is the major function of money.  Money isn’t evil if you trade it for things that help the people you love and care about.  Money is a tool, a store of value.  You trade it for things that you need or want.  When you earn it and trade it for good things, money is a good tool.  It’s the ‘love of money’… putting money in the unnatural position of being more important than the things that are truly important that can draw you into temptation, bad decisions, and trouble.  Money is just a tool.

Managing money doesn’t have to be difficult, confusing, or boring.  It’s why I wrote the MoneySmart Solutions book and publish information on my website davidpandone.com for people to use; to take the drudgery out of putting yourself in control of your own money.  That’s really why people don’t create and run their own budgets, isn’t it?  The time and effort it takes to organize and create the system to track your financial activities is why most people avoid it.  When someone else has done it for you, all that’s left is to take a little time, fill in the blanks, and add up the numbers!  If it makes your life easier, more rewarding, and gets you closer to your goals, why not buy one, learn the skill set, and make it your skill set?  Twenty five dollars can change your relationship with money forever!

There are many budget options available to you that take the organization and time element down to a minimum.  Find one that you like.  If you don’t choose to have me help you through my book or website, don’t waste any more time or money not knowing what your resources are or where they are going.  Find a system you like and put it to use plugging the holes in your barrel where your money is leaking out unseen.  Put a budget to use to improve your financial well-being and start writing the rules to your own game.  You can choose.  You can make a change.  It’s your game!  What will your rules be?

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