Give Your Budget a Spring Cleaning

Today is a particularly fun day.  This morning we bought a “new” (new to us) car and are now debt free.  Here’s how it all started:

A little over six months ago my wife and I began looking at our financial situation a little closer than we had in times past.  We had always (well, almost always) kept a monthly budget, and were doing quite well in the area of frugality, saving, etc.  But we both felt that we could do much better at goal setting and creating a plan for our financial future.

Clean Out the Budget

I’ve always been one who enjoys what most people call “spring cleaning” regardless of what time of year it is.  It feels extremely liberating to go through your stuff, find everything that isn’t used, needed, or noticed and simply throw it away or donate it.  And that’s precisely what we did with our budget.  We found all the expenses that weren’t needed and kicked them out.

After setting some very specific goals (get totally out of debt, purchase a home, etc.) we took a good hard look at what we were spending money on.  It was amazing to see how many regular expenses we had that we could either lower dramatically or get rid of altogether.  I’m not talking about “buy less expensive groceries” here, I’m talking about fixed expenses that we had just gotten used to having, but could live without if sacrificed a little bit.

Shed the Debt

We threw out a number of expenses, but primary among them was a car payment (of only $125 per month) that had about $6,000 left to be paid off.  It certainly wasn’t a burdensome expense but one that we could definitely live without (we simply didn’t need that nice of a car at this point in our lives).  So we sold the car, paid off the loan, and cheered for joy as we realized that we were then debt free.

As we shopped around for our “new” car, we were often tempted to look at cars that would require that we deplete a good portion of our savings (emergency, house, etc.) and sometimes we even considered taking out another, smaller loan.  Once, however, we returned to our goal sheets and budget software, we came to our senses and kept to the plan.  We were determined to only spend up to the amount that we had left over from selling the car.

And Buy a New Car

So today I cut a check out of our bank account and paid “cash” (without dipping into the savings) for a great, reliable car that will serve our needs just fine.  And while it’s not nearly as fast, pretty, or luxurious as our last vehicle, the feeling of getting out of debt and being a little more frugal is nothing short of exhilirating.

So even if you’re quite diligent in your budget, give your budget a good hard look.  A good “spring cleaning” may just do wonders for you financial situation as well as your attitude.  Hey, it may even buy you a new a car!

**This article was featured on the Carnival of Personal Finance at Moolanomy.com.

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