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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook
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279 of 282 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had the misfortune to fall in love with a profession that doesn't pay beans. I also have tastes that would be more in line for an heiress. What to do?
Well, what I -did- do was overspend, get myself into credit-card debt, get myself out of it and still not have any idea how to save money or manage a budget. But this great little book changed that.
There's some advice and encouragement from the author here, but that's not the focus here. The focus would be extremely easy-to-use charts that help you plan your spending and keep track of what you actually -did- spend.
It's pretty easy: First, figure out your yearly expenses (the author provides a long list of these to jog your memory). These include car maintenance, professional dues, subscription renewals, haircuts, vet visits -- the whole shebang. There's also a great worksheet that lets you figure out your gift-giving expenses for birthdays, holidays and so on. Add them all up and divide by 12. That's the amount you need to save every month for these occasional expenses. (Why didn't I think of that?)
Then, for each month, there's a one-page worksheet where you figure out what your income will be for the month and what your expenses will be. You can easily chart when you'll get paid and when you'll need to pay your bills.
Finally, there's a two-page worksheet for each month to keep track of what you actually did spend. (It was a real eye-opener for me to realize what I actually spent on snacks each month!)
This is the first time I've every been able to create and stick to a realistic budget, and I have to say that it's pretty awesome. I actually have money left the second week of each pay period now, and I don't have to skip paying one bill so I can pay the others.
Here's a tip that I used to keep track of my budget: I copied it into my planner every week, so after I spent my allocation for, say, dining, I would cross it off. That way, I didn't get confused about how much of my budget for the week I'd actually used.
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113 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've been using Judy Lawrence's "Common Cents" system of budget management for probably the past 12 years or so, and it's made a big difference in how I handle my money. I track all my spending in a notebook (and in my checkbook), and then transfer these transaction details into my monthly Common Cents pages. It's made a huge difference to see at-a-glance where my money is going each month -- and you can't imagine the difference at tax time! All of this tracking takes me maybe 1-2 hours a month, so it's a minimal time investment. And I have no doubt I've saved many thousands of dollars over the years through the discipline and focus over money management that the Common Cents system has instilled. I've recommended it to friends and members of my family for many years; it just works!!
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
After a few failed starts with Excel and even Quicken, the pen and pencil tear-out pages in this book did the trick. The book is so modular and well-designed that you can start whenever and with whatever committment you want.
Do you think that keeping a budget is too hard? Not only is it easy, its especially easy with this book and the relief you feel as you get control of your spending is worth many, many times whatever small effort you put into tracking your expenses.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
When I first tried to make a budget using this book I spent a week crying. How could I possibly accomplish my goal to get out of debt and have any kind of fun? Once I actually starting living with the budget I found it very freeing.
The first year that the holiday season came around and my money for gifts and travel was sitting there waiting for me I was thrilled.
3 years later I am out of debt and that initially "impossible" amount of money that was going into credit card payments is now going into savings account :-)
Last year I REALLY wanted a photo printer mid year. Did I pull out a credit card and buy it? Nope. I went to my handy 12 month plan of occasional expensesm and thought about it. Did I really want the printer more than a hair cut, my next clothing allowance and a bit off of vaction budget? Yup. There was the money for my printer. No guilt. No credit cards.
This book is a great tool to get rid of that awful out of control feeling and come up with a plan. My book for year number 4 is going into my shoping cart now.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent, budget, worksheet resource because it's the unplanned for, non-monthly, but still regular expenses that punch holes in any "monthly" budget plan. For those who've forgotten about quarterly, semi-annual, annual, birthday/holiday, etc., expenses it's a real eye opener. Couple that with modern society's growing use/dependency on non-cash transactions . . . credit cards . . . debit cards . . . prepaid cards . . . and most people don't realize how much they're actually spending at any given time/moment. But be FOREWARNED any new budgeters, this book is very weak on "overview" . . . there's no "big picture." A very simplified explanation of why one needs to do what, when, and how rolling into . . . "and this is how we get started" . . . is nowhere to be found. There's a reason one needs to initially track every expense (to identify what you're actually spending your money on) . . . organize that into some form of logical summary (determine the actual total cost of the lattes here, magazines there, fast food, etc.) . . . and develop a plan of attack if change is needed/required . . . is sorely missing. For those new to budgeting, it's not intuitively obvious. I was neither interested in nor cared that they included free budget (Mvelopes) software . . . but I did find it rather interesting that right out of the gate they discourage anyone from using Quicken or MSMoney with the quote, "I have found that for many people there is critical tactile and visual learning that occurs with the manual approach that does not happen as effectively electronically" . . . and then immediately follow that up with their software Mvelopes and all the great, wonderful things it too can do for you . . . guess the name of the game is ultimately still "Money."
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have very few money-management skills. My husband has even fewer. Therefore, our marriage has been, until recently, a recipe for financial disaster. The final straw came one day when I opened up our checking account statement, and realized that, even though our expenses are roughly a little more than 1/2 our income, we only had $5 in our checking account, and no savings.

That's when I decided to pick up this fabulous little book. This book is written in plain English that even financial novices such as ourselves could understand. The monthly budget forms literally changed our lives. In about three months, we have completely changed our financial outlook. For the first time ever, all of our bills are paid on time and in full, and we actually have money left over! We have started saving and paying off more of our debts. We even hope to be able to buy our first house within the next year, something I believe would still be hopelessly out of reach without the help of this book.

Don't think this book is just for beginners, though. The forms, references, and ideas in this book are useful to anyone looking for a way to easily manage their personal finances.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I am a veteran Certified Financial Planner professional and personal finance author. I've looked for years to find a practical and useful budgeting book to recommend to clients and consumers. Judy Lawrence wrote the best book on budgeting I've seen by far. Most similar products are painfully boring. This book is worth the money and implementing this workbook is absolutely worth your time! It's all about cash flow. Know where you are. Begin managing your cash flow with this workbook and you'll get where you want to be.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you are looking at these reviews I think its safe to assume you've tried and failed at budgeting, whether it be self monitoring or a grandiose computer program, i.e., Money and Quicken. I've ued them both and keep coming back to this Workbook, because it works on several levels!

"Know Thyself". You have to ask yourself what am I trying to accomplish in my budgeting.

You have to have your own system to manage you spending habits, which could be keeepng reciepts and entering them daily or weekly receipts. For me, this was entering my expenses daily or every other day at the most. You don't have to boot up your computer and its not a chore. Place the workbook on your nightstand and pencil it in for your daily expenses. This sounds like a hassle but it takes 1 minute tops daily. Couple that with setting up a budget for your fixed expenses at the beginning of the month (15 minutes)and your set.

Another great addition is that this workbook helps you budget for one-time expenses, christmas gifts,a nd on an on. If you don't want to go into this much detail, then don't. Pick something you know you can stick to and graduate from there.

Ultimately, this book achieves where all computer progrmas fail. Accessibility, reality, and ease. Come'on I know what your thinkng "what if I want expense reports" we've all become LAZY! Its good to break out a calculator and get those brain juices going or you can plug your reports in Excel--see that computer is good for SOMETHING.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
Careful budgeting can be a crucial tool for managing your money and getting out of debt -- and this easy-to-use workbook can help you gain control of your spending and organize your records once and for all! The comprehensive worksheets and charts allow you to set financial goals, plan and monitor your spending. It even helps you organize for tax time. Inspiring stories from people who have used The Budget Kit to change their financial lives for the better will keep you motivated.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
After using the third edition of The Budget Kit, I anxiously awaited the 4th edition and was not disappointed! The Budget Kit is a fantastic resource for helping to get your finances in order. It's a great way to track where your money is going or has gone in the past so that you can stay on top of your financial situation. Of course, this means stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your financial situation in the face. However, The Budget Kit is the best way I've found to do just that without leaving you discouraged at the end of the process. In fact, once you've gone through the relevant pages in this book you will be in control of your finances, not controlled by them. The handy perforated sheets make it easy to put what you need together and the Mvelopes program is a perfect companion to the book.
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