I recently heard an NPR report about people living a middle class lifestyle that was making them broke. Basically it was a nine minute radio segment about how people spend more money than they make.
Considering the average US family has $16,748 in credit card debt and pays almost $1,300 a year in interest on that debt, I'm not shocked. (source)
While the cost of living has increased, I won't argue that-- the repost I listened to talked about people keeping up with a middle class lifestyle they could not afford. They were, what I call, paycheck poor.
What I mean by that is: It's Monday, where did all of your money go?
Well, you got paid on Friday, and then you went out to eat, you met up with friends, and you went to a movie. And then Saturday, you went to the grocery store and then, maybe, to Target on your way home. And then Sunday, you went out to brunch. And then Monday, you woke up and had no money. Sounds familiar? A little bit.
It's tempting to do. You work hard, you want to relax and enjoy your money. I get it. I do. But it's important that we don't spend money based on what's available to us.
Instead, we have to budget. I know budgets don't sound fun. But they do give you a lot of freedom. You just have to tell your money where to go. You have to pre-allocate it.
You can go out to brunch. You can go out to the movies. But plan for those things in advance. Or just have some money set aside for entertainment purposes.
If you have never made a budget before here is a good place to start.