UNITED STATES—From time to time, we have to take a moment and truly look at the budget and try to make sense of what is coming into the household and what is going out. This is something that many Americans fail to properly do. I will admit I am one of those individuals as well. We look at our expenses, but we don’t REALLY look at those expenses.

We never seem to have a problem knowing how much revenue comes into the household each month; however, we sometimes don’t calculate actual expenses that tend to add up and quite quickly to say the least. Those expenses have to be calculated into the scheme of what things we can cut to save on our budget. Now, I’m not talking here about those runs to Starbucks or the donut shop or things that you do to give you that extra boost.

I’m referring to those expenses that you think are essential, but you later come to the realization that these expenses could have been curbed completely. For example, why spend money on groceries just because there is a sale, but you’ve purchased items you have yet to consume, you won’t consume or you don’t necessarily need. Yup, you just threw some income in the trash that could have been used to take care of another expense. That is the problem with us as Americans; we don’t fully ‘see’ the error of our ways. We assume what we’re doing has a purpose, and for the most part it does, but at the same time the ends do not justify the means.

If I’m spending more money in an attempt to make money, yet I’m losing money, that strategy or approach needs to be curbed to change that error of thinking that you have. That might be the one thing that annoys me about certain people: they don’t analyze money with the level of respect that it deserves. You cannot live by the ideology that if my cable bill is too high, I’m just going to work harder to earn more and more money to pay it, versus finding a way to knock the cost down. The same comes with grocery shopping. You might like a particular place for its value, it’s amenities of perhaps the pricing, but at the same time, are you going to allow yourself to break the bank each month because you REFUSE to shop elsewhere.

When it comes to curbing expenses, one has to be willing to shop around, find the best possible bargain; it’s not all about being frugal. You have people who are frugal and then you have those who are too frugal, where they don’t splurge even when they can afford to a bit. I’m all about catching a sale, but I understand at times there are things you just have to purchase and there is no actual way to get around things.

Here is a great way to see how much you’re spending in a given month, maybe a week, and possible ways to make adjustments to get a better grasp on your spending habits. We get receipts for everything we purchase, so instead of just tossing them, store those receipts for EVERYTHING that you purchase in a given week or given month. At the end of the week or month, tally up all of those expenses. You might be dumbfounded with the result, but it’s going to give you some perspective. Did I need this? Why did I buy that? What can I do to make some adjustments to the budget to save more money each week or each month?

That is the biggest problem with Americans nowadays, are ability to save is becoming more grim and grim each day and that is something we have to change now, not later before we’re left wondering: what happened to all that money I once had?