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Budgeting is a very personalized process, but also a necessary one.  If you do not have a budget, then it is very difficult to control your spending.  Personally, I am a recovering spendaholic myself. I would get money in my pocket, go on a binge and after blacking out for several days, wake up with empty pockets.  I soon learned that maintaining these habits would eventually cost me more than I was prepared to lose, so I committed myself to either shaping up or shipping out.

You should think about learning to save and becoming financially fit the same way you think about losing weight.  When it comes to losing weight, the more corners you cut, the more specialized and precise your plan has to be.  For example, if someone wants to lose weight without exercising, this is going to require them to be extremely precise about what they eat, when they eat or even how they eat.

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But if you think about it, the process of losing weight does not have to be complicated.  If a person simply says “I am going to eat what I want, just less of it.”, and “I am going to jog five miles every day”, they are probably not going to be overweight.  It is very difficult to jog five miles per day and STAY fat, even if you eat a candy bar after each meal.  When I once told my father about the elaborate diet I was going to pursue in order to lose weight, he simply told me to “take my fat ass to the gym.”  I went to the gym and lost weight in a matter of weeks.

You can think of saving in the same way.  If you are a person who already saves well and you are trying to get wealthy, then you need a precise savings program, sort of like extreme military training.  But if you are a spendaholic who is simply learning to save a little, then the process is much simpler.  A spendaholic has to go through 3 steps when it comes to saving and investing:  1) spend less, 2) learn to save, and 3) start investing.  By simply giving yourself an allowance, budgeting, and making sure you always put aside a certain percentage of your income, you are going to be just fine.

Over the next few days, I am going to break down the saving and budgeting process into  five steps that might help you find your way to financial fitness.  But before I share the steps with you, it is important that you first buy into the importance of saving and investing your money.  The economy stinks right now, and job security is a thing of the past.  Diversifying your sources of income is critical to your survival, and you also need to commit yourself to padding your savings in case you run into a rainy day.  By committing yourself to saving and protecting your money, you’ll find life to be less stressful and more fulfilling, since you’ll have one less thing to worry about.  The tips are coming, so please keep checking

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good.”. To have Dr. Boyce Financial advice delivered to your email, please visit


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