Credit and debit cards can lure you into spending frenzy that can spiral out of control before you know it. Have you ever come to the end of the month and asked, "Where did all the money go?" The convenience of plastic has made it far too easy to make purchases that we might not make if we had to dip into our wallet and make a cash purchase. _ Studies have shown that spending increases as the means to pay for an item becomes easier. In other words credit cards have made buying transactions easier, so we're more likely to buy stuff without concern, until the bill comes at the end of the month! Likewise, new 'pay with a wave' credit cards will make it easier still and foster even more poor spending habits.
First of all you need to know how much money you earn, for some people this is easy you look at your Wθ form and there it is, but for seasonal workers, small business people, it gets a little more complicated than that. If you receive income from a lot of different sources for a realistic value of what you actually earn itemize them, put them down on paper. Include all income, now is not the time to be hide money from the IRS you are just fooling yourself, you need to have factual figures here of your true income otherwise you will actually think you're in good financial shape because you know you got this extra income somewhere, but that's not always true.