What makes someone a bad budgeter in life? Is it the fact that they use their ATM receipt as their personal bank reconciliation? Is it that as long as they can pay the minimum on their credit cards, they will keep charging new purchases every month? Is it because of poor upbringing and spending no time learning about money?
Wallet Hub recently ran a study and ranked the 150 metropolitan areas in the United States to gauge the overall budgeting capability of their residents. They did so by examining 16 key metrics, ranging from the average credit score to the percentage of unbanked households. They even ranked foreclosures. Here is what the study revealed about budgeting.
|Metro Areas with the Best Budgeters||Metro Areas with the Worst Budgeters|
|1||Fargo, ND||141||Monroe, LA|
|2||Sioux Falls, SD||142||Alexandria, LA|
|3||Rochester, MN||143||Savannah, GA|
|4||Minneapolis, MN||144||Augusta, GA|
|5||Boston, MA||145||Macon, GA|
|6||Cedar Rapids, IA||146||Columbus, GA|
|7||Des Moines, IA||147||Gulfport, MS|
|8||Sioux City, IA||148||Las Vegas, NV|
|9||San Francisco, CA||149||Albany, GA|
|10||Duluth, MN||150||Jackson, MS|
Georgia had five of the worst ten metro areas in the United States, which puts us amongst the top 150 metro areas and Atlanta metro didn’t fare much better at 120th on the list. If your family finances seem to be in line with this study, here are five smart money moves to improve your family profit and loss statement.
- Ask yourself is this a short-term or long-term problem- The first basic question is know whether the debt you have racked up was because of a one time occurrence (i.e.- medical expenses, big purchase) or is this a systemtic and chronic budgeting issue. After recognizing this issue, you next need to ask whether you truly have a revenue issue or an expense issue with your family finances. Do you need a complete overhaul of your finances or do you need to pick up a second job to make ends meet?
- Determine which credit card to pay off first- If your FICO score is suffering, it is important to make sure you get to paying your bills on time. Then, irrespective of interest rate, I am a fan of paying off one credit card so you can gain some emotional wins as well as financial wins. Remember, don’t close out the credit cards or you could hurt your overall utilization score.
- Shop every one of your bills- Fixed expenses can be difficult to alter unless you completely change your lifestyle. Consider calling each and every one of your vendors anywhere from a home refinance to lowering your cable bill to shave down your fixed expenses.
- Use cash for a month- From the grocery store to the gas station, if you pay with cash for one full month you’ll get a better handle on exactly what you spend. I see more families today who hardly ever read their credit card bill and because of on line bill pay it’s just easy to click without inspecting your costs.
- Rank your expenses– If you do have to cut something on the discretionary side, ask yourself what you could live without for the next twelve months while you clean up your mess. Maybe you can cut out the eating out at lunch. Or, give up the gym membership. Whatever it takes to get yourself back into good shape with your overall family financial picture.
Usually, you can expect what you inspect. More often than not, most families get to the bottom of the budgeting list by simply not inspecting where their money goes each month. Let’s all pitch in to see if we can become better budgeters here in Georgia . . . or we’ll all have to take a road trip to Iowa or North Dakota!
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.