Paying Attention

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Jen and I watched Tuesday's Oprah, a rerun from October, about saving money. It featured "the thriftiest family in America" helping another family now getting by on one (reduced) income instead of the double income they'd been accustomed to.

The one family may have seemed liked spendthrifts relative to the other, but they actually had been living within their means: they were saving, and they paid off their credit cards every month. In other words, they were doing far, far better than many people.

And, still, it was easy for the thrifty family to demonstrate how they could save $2000 a month. Most of the steps they took were fairly obvious -- cutting back on the $190/month cable/phone/internet bill, cooking and brown-bagging leftovers for lunch instead of eating out, borrowing DVDs from the library instead of buying them on the day of release.

Part of the Your Money or Your Life plan is just to track all your expenses. The book notes that most people report ending up spending 10% less just because the accounting makes them pay attention, before they specifically tried to cut back.

Ultimately, paying attention is the first, last, and only article of financial advice I have to impart.

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