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Cents & Sensibility: A Fond Farewell over Dinner

Cents & Sensibility: A Fond Farewell over Dinner
As our financialista signs off on her final column, she also shares some tips for fitting dining out into even the most frugal of lifestyles.


What does the word "budget" mean to you? Do you cringe when you hear it, thinking of ending your spontaneous dinners at your favorite restaurants and adopting a new habit of packing your lunch? No more cute shoes and Starbucks runs? If so, then you are like most people! But to me and in my financial coaching practice, budget means nothing more than an on-paper look at where your money is going.

Most of my clients come to me with needs including debt-reduction advice and help with saving more money. They've done the basic budgeting in their head and know there is extra money somewhere to put away, but they struggle to find it. The thing is, when they add up all the "fixed" stuff like rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, other loans, childcare, etc, and compare that number with the amount of money coming in, many people are sad and discouraged to see what "should" be leftover.

More often than not, the process usually stalls out there with feelings of poor willpower and negative self-talk. It is at this point that I remind clients they aren't counting the other little things that are also needs in our everyday lifestyle. Haircuts, oil changes, personal care items, house cleaning, gas money, and — yes — food. Most people do have an amount of money each month that they could put toward debt reduction or savings without really feeling a pinch to their accustomed lifestyle, but it isn't as much as it initially appears.

So once you have all the predictable bills down that won't go away without major changes, take a look at your other expenditures. You probably will be pleasantly surprised to learn that even when you factor in such indulgences as date night at Nada or your daily stop at Coffee Emporium, you still will be able to find that little bit of extra money.

And even if it is only $50 per month, if you make saving it automatic through payroll deduction or auto-transfer from your bank, you will be surprised at how quickly you will see a difference. Then as you acquire little windfalls like tax refunds, a raise at work or some other bonus, you will be more inclined to put some of that money toward your goal, getting you there even quicker. So enjoy your gastronomic pleasures, knowing that you still can stick to a budget and achieve your financial goals.

As some of my readers know, I've had some wonderful changes in my personal life that have led to me becoming only a part-time resident of Cincinnati. I have followed my heart with a move to Chicago, and while my business continues to thrive and grow in Cincinnati, the editors of Cincy Chic have decided to stick with their emphasis on local people, products and services and switch to a finance columnist who is a full-time Cincinnati resident and who is able to write weekly. You will see this new column in the May 10 Weekend Getaway issue.

I'd like to take a moment to thank my loyal readers and ask you to please keep in touch. I will be continuing my writing and posting it to my blog, and I also have a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to via my Web site. I have delighted in sharing financial wisdom with the Cincy Chic family, and I am grateful to Amy Storer-Scalia and Linda Palacios for giving me the opportunity!

I'll leave you with a favorite nugget of wisdom from Ray Charles: "Live every day like it's your last, 'cause one day you're gonna be right." Carpe diem!
Kelley C. Long -

Kelley Long is a certified public accountant (CPA), Cincy Chic's former financial columnist, a downtowner, and a financial coach and owner of Kelley C. Long Consulting. You can e-mail her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>


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