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Featured Article

Living on a budget and controlling your finances may seem difficult, but it does not have to be. Our articles are written with your challenges in mind. We share realistic strategies that have been modeled by the most successful people. Many of our previous articles are available in the organizer's archive section. Click here for more controlling your finances organizing articles or click here for control your finances budgeting tips.

The Life Cycle of a Purchase
By Dawn and Daniel Roth

If you feel like you never have enough money, this article is for you. You will be amazed at the extra money you discover with a little help and some discipline. The reason you feel this way is due to a phenomenon called "blind spending." The following steps will help you find more money in your current budget. Consider it a raise you give yourself.

Step 1-The Truth. You admit you have no idea where your money is going, so now what? You must understand that each purchase has a life cycle you are responsible for executing.

Step 2-The Sale. Many believe that the sale is the end of the purchase cycle. This is not true! It is only the beginning. You have traded your capital for a product or service. That decision creates new responsibilities.

Step 3-The Receipt. Tossing or losing track of this slip costs Americans billions. Can you afford it? The receipt can bring great joy and avoid major sorrow. For specific answers on how long to keep receipts or other financial questions, take advantage of Squared Away's unlimited communication monthly online consulting for $60.

Step 4-The Record. You must record purchases just like you do with checks, ATM withdrawals, or deposits. Categorizing helps you be aware and on target for spending goals. Each receipt represents a debit that needs to be accounted for. If you resent having to keep track of purchases, you have uncovered one reason for negative cash flow.

Step 5-The Reconciliation. The official statements sent to you by institutions you do business with are important in maintaining accuracy. If you have not found a way to successfully make reconciliation a habit, contact a professional organizer. Your money is too precious to throw away needlessly. When you receive a statement of from your bank or credit company, carefully compare it to the record of your transactions and spending activities. This ensures that your money is not "leaking" out of your account due to others' errors.

Step 6-The Balance. Finding errors and correcting them is the step most often missed in the life cycle of a purchase. If you make an error (big or small) that is corrected within a month, no harm is done to your credit and you get feedback about what is not working with your system. If the bank or lender makes an error, you can lose lots of money by not catching it, missing the action date, or paying fees.

Mindful spending includes good decision making leading up to a purchase as well as accepting the commitment to do the paperwork necessary to keep your financial affairs in good standing. If you feel this costs too much time, decide how much it costs you to spend and just forget about it.


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