Manage your money people, it’s important.

This morning I witnessed another fine example of people not really caring about their personal finances, or at the very least ignoring the problems they may have. I was in the break room at work, we have Burrito vendors come out during the week. The vendor is sitting there and an employee walks in and first asks if they take checks, the vendor replies “Yes.” To me, not a huge red flag, not a lot of people with cash on hand and if they really want a Burrito they might need to write a check.

Then, that question was followed up with, “can you just take my debit card number?” Again the vendor replied “yes,” on a side note I think this is just dumbfounding that people are so trusting, but hey. After that response the employee then asks, “will you run it today or tomorrow?” Leading one to believe that this $3.00 burrito may very well overdraw the account or that the account is already overdrawn.

I have to tell you, if you can’t afford a $3.00 burrito, it is time to sit down and go over everything. I’m not saying you should be able to buy a $3.00 burrito with no difficulty, but manage your personal finances. The economy is in the toilet, and if you have a good job there is no reason you shouldn’t be solvent and saving. You can still spend money, but you might be more careful about what you are spending your money on and keeping track of actual costs.

We are rapidly approaching the holiday season, one of the most popular things for people to do when personal finances are in bad shape is say “F it, I will deal with it later” and spend like mad. Don’t, there are other options. I was in a tight situation some years ago and instead of going out and buying gifts on the lists of my family members I chose to try and make gifts, or do something meaningful.

Remember, the holidays are not always about tangible material items, though we sure make it seem that way. November 1 is right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at your finances, and your plan for the next two months. Most families set budgets, if you don’t already, now is a good time to start.

Most of all, never feel pressured by family or friends about money. Either you can afford something or you can’t with your budget. No shame in saying no, or not this month or whatever response you like to use. I spent a good part of my 20’s in big debt, worked my ass off to get rid of it and stay out of it.

I am not rich, and I can’t say I am wealthy by most standards, but I don’t live beyond my means. it does take discipline and it’s not easy, but in the long run, your life and your families life will be much better by showing restraint and responsibility.

The near future is pretty bleak for the economy, it’s depressing and not taking vacations, making purchases and all that really adds up and makes life hard. Just remember, this is all going to get better, but it might be a year or two before we really start to see any improvement.

Keep putting money away for retirement, keep putting money away for emergencies. If you aren’t comfortable putting your new retirement contributions into stocks and mutual funds try and keep them in a money market or something similar. There is still risk, but a lot less. Also, IRA’s at banks have a yield, but are insured so that is another alternative.

One last thing, personal finances are just that, personal. They aren’t anyone’s business but yours. If you need help or guidance, don’t be afraid to ask, just ask the right people. Don’t ask your friend with $15K in revolving debt. It is even worth spending a little bit to speak to a financial planner or if you are in debt talk with an organization like Consumer Credit Counseling Services.

In the end, yes this post is about a person not having the money for a $3.00 burrito yet deciding to go into debt over it. However, this is just a small example of the larger problem we are seeing right now and it is really really important we stay focused on personal finances and protect ourselves as best we can against this horribly beat down economy.

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