Where do you want to go in life? Where do you see yourself in the next twenty years? How about your children; what do you imagine for them? We all have a vision of what we'd like the future to bring – health, wealth, happiness; or more objectively, an around-the-world cruise, a summer home in Bermuda, an Ivy League education for all three of the kids, etc. It's true that without some form of vision, you really can't get anywhere. But have you set the proper financial goals that will allow you to make that inner vision an outward reality? If not, here's a quick tip on how you can do it: Budget!

Oddly enough, that one little word typically strikes angst into the hearts and minds of millions. The notion of setting up a budget, much less actually living by one, is more than enough to cause them to stick their heads in the sand and give up in defeat – even before they've actually taken the time to try. Unfortunately, it can't be sidestepped. In order to find out how you can get to a desired destination, you're going to have to determine your current location. The same principle holds true where your finances are concerned. A thorough budget will show you precisely where your finances are, and that in turn will allow you to plot a path to where you want them to be. Without a working budget, you'll likely find it extremely difficult to save any real money to build toward your goals.

For most people, the most difficult thing about a budget is actually sitting down and beginning the process of creating one. But once you come to the conclusion that it's overwhelmingly in your best interest and that it can go a long way toward alleviating both short- and long-term money issues, the process of examining your finances and putting together a plan won't seem nearly the burden that it once did. You won't see it as a tortuous lifestyle wherein you won't be able to enjoy anything at all because of the financial restrictions that a budget will impose. Quite the contrary, you'll begin to view it as an effective means to an end, and once you've done it for a little while you'll probably even start noticing that instead of running out of money before the end of the month, you've got some left over. It's the by-product of a disciplined approach to spending; which, after all, is the core purpose of budgeting. Your budget will simply give you blueprint for how to live within your means.

But no budget, no matter how thoroughly constructed, will do any good if you don't implement it and stay with it! Give yourself – and your entire household – a chance to get used to it, to allow its effects to take hold. And remember, it's your own budget; it can be loosened or tightened as you go along to meet your requirements and needs.

In this 'buy-now-pay-later' lifestyle that's been adopted, we've all gotten used to living above our means. The phrase "Charge!" is no longer expressly used as the battle cry of the Light Brigade. As such, living beyond our means has become the norm – but that, at best, is a toxic way to live. Institute a budget and take back control of your finances; get back to living within your means. You'll find life a lot less stressful, and those goals will suddenly seem a lot closer than they ever did before.

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