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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Where does it all go?

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Where does it all go? Where does it all go?

I recently had a chat with the daughter of a friend who just got a raise. Her problem? She can't figure out why she is seems to have no money even though she is making twice what she made two years ago. Where did her 'extra' go? 

This common dilemma has happened to many of us. No more confusion, kids. We are going to take control.

So what are the major culprits?

Lifestyle creep  You may very well be spending money on things that you previously considered luxuries and not weekly necessities. Massages, spa treatments, work-out sessions with a trainer, upgrades on basic services can't all be purchased on that little raise, bud. Going without is not my dream for you, but you likely can't afford all of these new 'needs.'

Too many dinners out  According to an article, Americans ages 18-29 spent $173 per week on food, and they eat out more than other age group. If the reason for all this eating-out is to satisfy our real social longings, my friend, I totally understand the need to be with your peeps. But, chickadee, I want you to think of ways to socialize on the cheap. At least, on the cheap-er.  Because, in fact, only about 15 percent of your income should be spent on food.

Monthly auto-pay  It seemed like such a great idea. Making all the bill-paying be an auto-debit so that you could make sure the necessities were paid on time, saving you time and late payments. The problem occurs when your life changes and the auto-pay doesn't.  I get it, bud. Four years ago this monthly service seemed invaluable. But time passes and your needs and interests change. 

What you need to do is to check your bank info or credit card statement and see what you are paying for every month. Do you need two music-streaming services? Do you even live in the same city of that old gym membership? Discontinuing redundant or unused services could help you save some serious coinage.

The generous pal dilemma - I know how happy it makes you to see your friends have fun even when they are short of cash. Which, come to think of it, happens pretty frequently.  Am I right? You go to work to take care of your needs and your future. Here's my challenge: consider how often you are paying $20 here and $10 there. Maybe your generosity was initially meant as a stop-gap, until your poor, misunderstood friend got another job. 

Perhaps the spending is just you being a lunatic and assuming you make more than they do, so you should pay. If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, come up with a simple strategy to change it. You don't have to be confrontational. But you work hard for your money (so hard for it, honey). Some options might be to think of a cheaper place to meet Celebrate with appetizers instead of dinner. Meet at people's places and bring snacks from the supermarket. You're a smart cookie. You'll talk it over with your buds and come up with a more affordable plan. 

In the end, imagine how cozy it will feel to tweak a few financial loose ends and even be able to start saving for your emergency fund. All because you asked yourself a simple question: Hey, where's all that money going?


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