UNITED STATES—It is a word that I know so many people hate: budget. However, the term budget is so important for us improving our financial situations American. The word budget is scary because so many of us think it places a limitation on what we can and what we cannot do with the money that we’ve earned. I like to believe that by implementing a budget we are able to find a way to examine where we are spending too much, what we can cut and how we can possibly save more money in the future.

Something I’ve noticed about myself in the past 2 months is by cutting out fast-food I save a ton of money. However, on the flipside I have seen myself spending way more money than I’d like at the grocery store. I mean it’s gotten to the tune of $350-$400 a month, and a lot of the time I find myself scratching my head trying to examine exactly why so much has been spent.

Am I shopping at the wrong super market? Am I not sticking to a list and just buying things for the sake of buying them? Or is it not focusing on trying to save money? To be honest it could be all of those things and so much more. I will without a doubt admit that I do write a list when I go grocery shopping because I like to stay on point; I don’t like deviation, but you will always see hiccups because items that you never expected to be on sale, happen to be on sale and it is hard to resist sometimes.

With that being said, some people think I’m crazy that I keep receipts of items I purchase so that I can tally the damage I’ve done in the past month or so. This allows me to see where my income for the month may have gone. Did money go towards things I needed to survive, or did funds go towards things that were more so a want versus a need. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you discover you spent too much on clothing and not enough on groceries. That’s a sign that it’s time to cut out a trip or two to the mall, perhaps spend the weekend at home doing some thorough cleaning to save a few bucks America.

That is something I’ve learned also; sometimes doing nothing is the best way to save a ton of money. With that being said, placing a budget in place not only for spending habits, but for your monthly expenses is crucial. I know many people who utilize a notepad or a notebook to keep track of their expenses. There are those expenses that no matter what you’ll likely have until you die: property taxes, rent, mortgage, light, gas, water, telephone, etc. Things like Cable, Internet, Netflix, gym memberships, and rewards clubs are not needs, those are wants. So if there is a way to cut the bill down or to eliminate them completely why not aim to make that happen.

Look at it this way. The more you can save on an unnecessary expense that is money you can place into your savings account. It’s no secret and research is continuing to show that Americans are not saving enough and as a result they are placed in these chaotic situations, where when they plan to retire they are unable to do so because they don’t have enough money saved to sustain an adequate living situation. Having money consistently go into one’s 401k, IRA or just your savings account in general is key to always having something just in case an emergency arises or pops up. I will be the first to admit, the notion of people constantly asking for money is annoying as hell. And sometimes you just gotta tell people no.

It either you or them, and sometimes what they consider an emergency isn’t actually an emergency. They just want, and they have no intent on paying you back. What does that mean? You’re out of money that could have been used to pay or take care of an expense. Don’t feel the need to explain, you’ve made your decision and people need to live with it, plain and simple. A budget is not the end of the world; it is simply a lifestyle change that has more perks than drawbacks in the long run America.