Budgeting & Saving

Don’t Budget Like the Walking Dead

Zombies generally don't have to think too much about their budget other than budgeting for time spent preparing to eat brains and avoiding the gunshots of the armies fighting them. But those of us who aren't members of the undead still can budget like zombies without much thought about our purchases. Get inspired by the season premiere of "The Walking Dead" to fix your budget. Here's how you can gain your brains back:

  1. Review one week of your bank account and credit card statements for items you wish you didn't purchase.

    If you print out the statements, mark every item you know you wanted to purchase with a ‘W'. Mark the ones you wish you hadn't purchased with a question mark. For instance, you may have really enjoyed your first Starbucks drink but not the one you bought in the afternoon. Mark the first one with a ‘W'. Then, mark the second one with a ‘?'. These are the expenses you want to avoid in the future.

  2. Practice zombie purchase budget uncoupling.

    Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their separation as conscious uncoupling? If you skipped your afternoon coffee you're not enjoying that much, you've uncoupled from a $90 monthly budgeting expense. You can uncouple from outfits you bought too quickly and times you shopped online without searching for a promo code first.

  3. Find your best method of future budget tracking.

    Everyone has a different way of budgeting from only using cash that can run out at the end of the week to using budgeting apps such as Mint to track expenses in categories. Once you have awareness of what your zombie budgeting habit is, you can figure out what method can fix it. For instance, if it really is just about managing daily spending, the cash method could work. If it's a more complicated issue about bills and larger purchases that you pay without thinking, an app is better because you can see what you're spending in all categories and from all your accounts from bank accounts to credit cards.

  4. Micro-analyze certain expenses.

    It's easy to say you should avoid going out for dinner, but it's actually Zombie-like to give up your omnivorous dinner. Instead look at what you ordered. Could you have skipped an appetizer you didn't enjoy that much? Was your entrée worth the price? I went to an amazing 5 course lunch the other day that was $50 per person before drinks. The only item I remember as being amazing was the ice cream made from charred hay. I could have ordered an appetizer and the ice cream and cut my price in half while enjoying the meal just as much. I would have saved calories, too.

  5. Prepare for tomorrow.

    Generally, we don't prepare for emergencies because we don't see them existing in the near future. When you un-zombie, you should think about whether you are prepared for emergencies such an unexpected illness for yourself, your pet, or your significant other. You may need to buy insurance, but you can also use this as a time to look at your current insurance purchases and making sure you get the best deal. Call around about car and home insurance to independent insurance agents in your area. I saved $600 annually on car insurance and $600 on rental insurance by comparing prices. I also save $30 monthly on my cable and cellphone bill by just calling and asking for a better deal or a special every 6 months. That's money I was throwing away like a zombie.

The message of the premiere episode of "The Walking Dead" is essentially to not live in fear and plan as if there is a future. Don't live in fear of your budget. You don't have to be a Zombie.

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