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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Q. I have a good job and am a single parent, and like so many other people I know, I live paycheck to paycheck.  I’ve already curbed my spending on eating out but don’t see where else I can cut back. How can I can get out of my financial rut and get ahead?

A. Every budget is personal and should be based on your family’s needs and goals. A family of 4 will spend differently than a family of 2. A family who has someone with special needs will have different expenses than a family that does not. Your budget will naturally reflect your family size, but it should also be focused on helping you achieve what you desire.

While every household has to pay for housing, utilities, and transportation, there are a number of areas where people often spend more than they need to. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that $5 or $10 here or there doesn’t make a difference. But nothing could be further from the truth. By cutting your spending by just $10 a week, you can save $520 in a year. Save $20 a week, and you can sock away $1,040 in a year. 

If you are struggling to save, I encourage you to become more conscious of how you are spending every dollar. When you do, you might find that you are spending a significant amount of money on miscellaneous items.

Miscellaneous items include, but are not limited to, magazines, books, hobbies, snacks, bingo, music downloads, videos and computer games. They can also include things like dues, postage, cosmetics, activity fees, gifts for birthdays, specials days, holidays, tobacco, alcohol and pets. Movies, concerts, swimming, camping, skating, golfing, bowling, skiing, rodeos, races, clubs & memberships, vacations, gardening and home decorating items can eat up a lot of your money, too. If you tally up your miscellaneous spending over the course of a month, and then multiply that number by 12, you may be surprised to learn how much you spend without thinking.

A new kind of consciousness lets you consider if your purchases bring value to your life. For example, are you paying for cable services that you don’t want or use?  Do you need a land line and a cell phone? Is it necessary to buy a new phone every year? Your cable and cell phone plans are just one place where you can save. Once you have an overall picture of how and where you are spending your money, then you can decide if you want to continue making the same choices.

A budget is the best tool you have available to you to help you reach your financial goals. You don’t have to cut out all miscellaneous expenses – just those that don’t bring you value. Every time you spend money on anything, you are making a choice. I encourage you to feel empowered knowing that you have the ability to reach your goals, one small decision at a time.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.