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It's a Money Thing®

Good Vs Bad Spending

When you start looking for financial advice, experts will share their take on what's "good" and what's bad." Aside from the obvious examples, the guidelines are a bit murky; plus, the financial gurus often contradict each other. One expert will tell you that spending money is "bad" and saving money is "good." The next will say that saving money is "bad" and investing is "good." 


If you're waging an inner battle of good vs. bad every time you whip out your credit card or peek at your monthly account statement, it's probably time to give your views on budgeting a shake-up.

A good budget is one that, quite simply, works for you. It allows you to meet your needs and plan for your goals, and - most importantly - it motivates you to keep budgeting.

Successful budgeting tends to have the same three actions as building blocks:

  • Prioritize
  • Track
  • Reward

Read on to see if your current budgeting system has all three building blocks in place.


When putting together your budget, remember these three steps: Prioritize, Track, Reward


Prioritize your goals by taking time for personal reflection.


Prioritize 

What it means: Prioritizing your goals means taking a little personal reflection time and writing a few things down. Prioritizing your goals should not be confused with categorizing your expenses or thinking about what you "should" be saving up for. No, we're talking about your goals! What do you want your life to look like over the next few years? 

Why it works: Prioritizing your goals gets you buzzing about what your money can do for you. You are reminding yourself of why you're willing to adopt a budget in the first place. Prioritizing your goals also is a great starting point because it reminds you that you're in charge and you have a say in where your money goes. 

Get Started: Grab a pencil and paper. Ask yourself what you want. Think about it for 10 minutes. Write the answers down. Realize they are achievable. 

Track 

What it means: Tracking your expenses means being aware of where your money is going as you spend it. When you track your expenses, you start to realize that every transaction, no matter how big or small, is either contributing to a goal or taking away from it.

Why it works: One critical element in sustaining motivation is competence, or your ability to do something well. On the surface, tracking your expenses helps you to identify your spending patterns and course-correct when necessary. More importantly, by tracking your spending, you're also tracking your efforts and creating a record of your progress. You'll see how capable you are of budgeting and keep going.

Get Started: Browse the App Store or do a quick web search. You'll find some great budget templates on sites like, nerdwallet.com. You can also use First Florida's built-in budgeting feature in our Online Banking and Mobile App. Don't spend much time evaluating or comparing budgeting approaches. Just pick one and try it out.


Tracking your expenses means being aware of where your money is going as you spend it.


Rewarding yourself means encouraging and celebrating your progress as you create healthier financial habits.

Reward

What it means: Rewarding yourself means encouraging and celebrating your progress as your create healthier financial habits. Don't be afraid to use some creativity when defining your personal finance milestones and rewards. Milestones can be time-based, achievement-based, or increment-based. Rewards can take many forms as well. 

Why it works: Quite simply, rewards feel good. They highlight our achievements and renew our commitment. By assigning rewards to the milestone of any given goal, you're creating added incentive and boosting your motivation, which increases your focus and drive.

Get Started: Set a timer for 10 minutes and brainstorm two lists: a list of budgeting milestones and a list of possible rewards. After the 10 minutes are up, assign the rewards to your milestones. They should reward your effort realistically and be super exciting to work toward at the same time. 

The act of creating a budget contributes to your ability to follow it through. It solidifies your values, it promotes competence, and it highlights your achievements as you work through it. Incorporating Prioritize, Track, Reward into your budgeting method of choice will boost your motivation while tackling your personal finance goals at the same time.

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