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Do You Keep A Budget?

Poll QuestionBankaholic readers, you didn’t surprise when we asked about your 2014 financial goals in a recent poll.

The majority of respondents planned to save more for retirement this year. Paying off debt was a distant second, with building an emergency fund and cutting spending on its heels.

Kudos – these are all excellent financial goals.

And really, ones that should be easy enough to meet with a little reworking of your household budget.

That is, if you’re one of the few people who actually track your income and expenses each month.

Yes, we said “few.”

Gallup’s 2013 Economy and Personal Finance survey found that only 32% of people or their spouses or partners in all income brackets prepare a detailed budget.

Although that number jumps for those with some college education, conservatives, Republicans, independents and those with a household income of $75,000 or more, it never reaches the 40% mark.

Even fewer people have prepared a long-term financial plan. We’re talking 30% across all demographics, with only households making over $75,000 reporting a significantly higher 43%.

At least we now know why U.S. households seem to constantly face so many financial obstacles. We’re simply not paying close enough attention to what we’re spending.

And we can’t blame that on anyone but ourselves.

Granted, it’s easier to live without a budget, spending willy-nilly until our account balances run low and then holding off until our next paycheck arrives – or accumulating debt in the meantime.

And preparing both short- and long-term budgets often involves difficult conversations and choices.

No one likes to cut back on spending. Which is how we’ve become a country of spenders and not savers.

But, if we really do want to accomplish those 2014 financial goals of saving and paying off debt, the money has to come from somewhere.

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Do you have a formal household budget?
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