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Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Budgeting

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Budgeting is not scary, it’s not difficulty and it doesn’t take a genius to do it. You don’t need a degree in finance, or 25 year experience as an economist, nor to you need a financial advisor or book-keeper do it for you.

Budgeting is about knowing what your incomings are (wages normally), and your outgoings (mortgage/rent, utilities, telephone, cable, shopping, credit cards, etc).

Start out by printing off your monthly bank statement. If you haven’t got internet banking then sign-up now. The easiest way to have control of your money is to know how much you have and how much is coming out. This is budgeting.

Make a list of your income:

To make it simple and give you an example we’ll say you receive £1000 wages a month and you have no other income.

Now make a list of your direct debits, standing-orders, and any other monthly payments that you can’t get out of, this should not include any spending on shopping or food:

Rent:               £300.00

Electricity:             £100.00

Gas:                £100.00

Water:                         £20.00

Taxes:             £50.00

Insurance:             £10.00

Travel:             £20.00

So you start with £1000

When you’ve paid all of the above you’re left with: £400.00

This is your working budget. Spend more than this and you’re going into debt. Debt is the enemy! You should always try to spend within your budget. Food, clothes, going out, holidays, petrol, everything that is not a regular bill will come out of your working budget.

Check your bank regularly, internet banking and telephone banking are very helpful in making sure you are aware of your spending.

Budgeting is the opposite of dieting, but both work in the same (although opposite) way: there are only two ways to improve your situation, get more money in or spend less money. (Dieting is use more calories up or take less in).

Being aware of your financial situation, however bad it may be, is always helpful. Remember that knowledge is power.

Next time: Bills

Power Reading

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Since almost the beginning of this year, I’ve been, what I like to think of as, power reading. Taking the advice of Stephen King, not personally I’m afraid, but from his book On Writing, I’ve been reading as much as possible. Power reading, basically ever spare minute has been involved in reading, a spare moment at work, during the adverts of tv programmes (which I’ve cut back on), I’ve also started listening to audiobooks, so that H G Wells and Andre Norton tell me tales as I walk to work and wait for the opening credits at the cinema.

I haven’t played with my xbox since January.

I haven’t played with my girlfriend since May. She’s a damn sight harder not to play with than my xbox!

Every spare moment has been absorbed with reading.

It’s got to the point where my life is no longer split up into minutes, hours, days and weeks, but pages. While I run my bath I think I have time for twelve pages, between adverts is a two page stretch. Time is now counted in pages. Which of course becomes a little difficult when changing books, so it may well be time to demand that publishers don’t try to cram too many words onto a page and try to work between them to come up with the perfect number, with the perfect font size and just stick to that for every book. Harmonisation of words to a page is my new cause!

Anyways, this power reading over the last few months has become something of an obsession as I try to work through my quite considerable collection of books. I’ve managed to buy very few books this year, only about twenty, which isn’t too bad for me. But it still means I have about a thousand to go. Yikes!

Now, since the power reading marathon started I think I’ve managed to do a book in an average of three days. I can’t remember taking longer than four days to read a book this year. I have tried to stick to books of between three and four hundred pages. When power reading I find it’s more of a sprint to the end, so longer novels can get a bit sticky.

But this weekend I’m going to Copenhagen, to suffer the delights of Trivoli and another Scandinavian Capital City (last weekend away in July was to Stockholm). I know, poor me. My girlf loves all that is Scandinavian, and I can’t refuse a holiday opportunity, so on Friday off we go. But last Wednesday this left me with a dilemma. Do I start a nice short book and rush through it before we leave, or pick a huge book that will take me over the weekend. I pack light, and when I say light I mean minimal. We’ll be there for three nights, so I need three t-shirts, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, a camera and charger, ipod and charger, phone and charger, toiletries (consisting of mini mouthwash, mini toothpaste, toothbrush, mini shower gel), and what I wear on the flight: jeans, t-shirt, waterproof jacket, sunglasses, trainers, socks and pants. I will take a small rucksack and it will be half filled, at most. So there is only room for one solitary book. Hence the dilemma.

I could probably have read a book in between, but I thought I’d use this opportunity to have a bit of a slow down, to take a break from the breakneck reading. So I chose an epic, a collection of novels, by the aforementioned King. Four Past Midnight, the paperback version obviously, to minimise weight in my rucksack. So I’m taking a break and having a rest, and will be intent on enjoying Copenhagen over the weekend, and once I get back and I’ve finished the epic collection of Mr King, I’ll be back on course for some more power reading, at least until I go to Berlin in October. Such a hard life!