Excerpted from the "Money Instruction Book" - A Wealth-Building Course in Personal Finance
by Paul Richard - ICFE Executive Director
Practically everyone loves to spend money usually, surveys say, "because it's fun." Spending money is even more exciting, however, when it is carefully planned in advance because it will buy more. But the forces in our society that are so successful at getting us to spend money are so financially powerful, and their advertising messages so seemingly irresistible, that millions of Americans, young and old, routinely take on expensive short term debt in addition to wasting 20 to 30 percent of their money just because of poor spending habits and practices
Consider the extent to which some merchants and credit card issuers will go in order to entice people to spend beyond their incomes: no fee and low fee credit cards, instant credit approvals, first time buyer programs, sweepstakes and contests where chances of winning are increased with each credit-based purchase, extended manufacturers warranty programs, replacement insurance programs and, of course, "cash-back with every purchase."
Some companies actively encourage consumers to buy money orders and hold on to them for emergencies while some bankers encourage consumers with poor or no credit worthiness to deposit money ($500 - $2500)into their bank in order to secure a credit card with a 21.99 percent interest rate. In essence, people who do are borrowing their own money back at an interest rate of $21.99 per $100 per year.
It is not just credit-based spending decisions that get people into trouble. Some people who have either exhausted credit or ruined their credit rating have no trouble over-spending at all. Cash slips through their fingers so fast that at the end of the day, if they started out with $50, they often have less than $5 remaining and will have great difficulty determining just where it was all spent.
The Following are 20 statements pertaining to spending techniques. There are five responses to select from which indicate the degree of your likeness to each statement. Just mark the number of your response to each question on a sheet of paper. Should a statement not apply to your situation, skip it and adjust the scoring accordingly. The scoring section follows afterwards.
1. Totally like me
2. A lot like me
3. Equally like and unlike me
4. A little like me
5. Not like me at all
1.____ Each income period, I usually keep a small amount of cash from my paycheck.
2.____ Each income period, I usually deposit my paycheck into a checking or savings account.
3.____ I save paycheck stubs indicating deductions, taxes, etc.
4.____ Each income period, I set aside a pre-determined portion for fixed expenses.
5.____ Each income period, I set aside 10 percent for savings.
6.____ Money is managed according to a written spending-plan.
7.____ All grocery spending is planned in advance and done with a list.
8.____ I rarely make more than one trip a-week to the grocery store.
9.____ Grocery and other coupons are utilized whenever possible.
10.____ Comparison shopping for quality, value, price, etc. is something I/we do for practically every purchase, large or small.
11.____ I do not have any credit cards with a balance owing.
12.____ I do not have any loans (exclude 1st mortgage) with balance owing.
13.____ I have comparison shopped auto insurance in last year.*
14.____ I don't dine out (breakfast, lunch or dinner) two + times a week.
15.____ I have received estimated retirement benefits from pension and Social Security.
16.____ I am able to, and do at end of the day, account for all cash spent.
17.____ I balance checking/share draft accounts with each statement.
18.____ I have looked into joining and/or am a member of a credit union.
19.____ I am utilizing dollar-cost-averaging approach to investing.
20.____ I have given money/food to a needy person in the last two weeks.
*omit if no motor vehicle
19-27 VERY PERCEPTIVE. Time to teach others how to do it.
28-42 Pretty Good. Concentrate on improving a few of the weaker areas and you'll be amazed at the difference overall.
43-58 Average. An hour a-week focused on improving spending would equal an increase saving and give you more to invest.
59-75 Lousy. Immediate changes required to avoid financial disaster - implement a spending-plan, get on a pay-as-you go basis as soon as possible.
75 + It Stinks! Go to: Spending-by-choice