Want to keep your spending in check? Here's a hint: it can be done and get this -- it can even be done very well in several simple steps. Just take it from Robert Pagliarini, MSFS, CFP, author of The Six-Day Financial Makeover and president, Pacifica Wealth Advisors, Inc. Forget budgeting, says Pagliarini. Instead he recommends implementing his own PERK system to reduce expenses without budgeting. List all of your expenses and add them together. Next to each expense write a P, E, R or K.
By incorporating the PERK system, here are six ways to control your expenses:
Keep a spending diary
"The only way you can get some insight into your finances is to figure out where your money is going," he says. For one week, write down where your money goes. He says most people aren't surprised by big expenses such as rent, gas and insurance, however they're shocked when they add up the smaller expenses such as entertainment, dining out and shopping. It truly adds up!
Use the envelope method
Some people live by this method which seems kind of retro but works. On a weekly basis withdraw a certain amount of money from the bank (within your budget or slightly below) and tell yourself you're only allowed to spend money as in cold hard cash from that envelope for the entire week. You'll be surprised as to seeing how far you can stretch those Benjamins!
P: Postpone expenses
During a recession there are expenses which can be put off for a while. For instance, he says postponing an expense or two such as a vacation or new car purchase will provide you with more savings today.
If you belong to a gym and never use your membership it's time to ditch that monthly payment. The same applies to premium cable channels you never watch or newspapers you're subscribed to but never read.
"Every expense you eliminate is extra savings in your pocket," he says. For example, let's say your family goes out to dinner every Saturday night. One option is to go out every other Saturday night. Another suggestion is to continue going out to dinner every Saturday evening but select less expensive restaurants.
Certain expenses are meant to be kept. No brainers like rent/mortgage, insurance and food are necessary and should be marked 'keep.' He explains, "Now recalculate your revised expenses. Viola! It should be less than when you started."
Don't miss the rest of the Mom in Charge series:Mom in charge: Part II, 5 Things you must know to survive a recession
Mom in charge: Part III, 10 Tips from the experts on spending & savingMom in charge: Part IV, 25 Ways to cut living costsMom in charge: Part V, The 5 rules of saving: When, where & howMom in charge: Part VI, 12 Ways to teach your kids how to save