My wife (Antoinette) and my 12-year old son (Adam) were recently having a "discussion" about his lunchtime spending habits. Apparently middle-schoolers have many more choices than we did when it comes to school lunch. Gone are the days of a simple Sloppy Joe with a side of green beans. Today, you can add a special drink, side-salad, and dessert for an extra charge.
When I asked Adam how much he spent for lunch that day, he replied "I don't know, they didn't give me a receipt."
Adam is given a lunch card that his parents fill with money allowing him to buy lunch from the school cafeteria, much like a bank provides you with a credit card enabling you to spend, spend, spend until you've used all of your available credit.
Why is controlling your spending so hard? The
answer is that credit cards have killed the idea in your mind that you've just engaged in an exchange cash for goods or services. Think about it this way, when you eat popcorn out of a gigantic tub, do you know how much you've eaten?
The solution to the spending problem is to "
partition" your money, or set aside the amount you want to spend each month for items such as food, clothing, gas, etc. Partitioning your budget into categories will allow you to control how much you spend on each item, helping you to restore order to your finances.