Posts tagged ‘budgeting’

When Will I Ever Use Math in My Life?

As I sat through every single math class in my life, I thought when will I ever use this garbage in my life? Seriously, when will I ever need to use the quadratic equation or calculus formulas? Will geometry ever find a place in my life? And let’s not even get started on fractions and long division. What am I ever supposed to use those “skills” for? If I ever need to use math, I will just use a calculator. That is all I need, right?

The older I have gotten, the more and more I find that I use math. Now, in my chosen career and hobbies I will never use long division or calculus, but I frequently use basic math skills to manage day to day life. You too will use math throughout your life. Don’t believe me? Here are a few day to day activities that require a basic math understanding.

  • Sewing. Even as a novice seamstress, I find that I use math calculations every single time I sew. First, you have to determine how much fabric you need (often measured in mixed fractions). Then you will use math to adjust the pattern to fit your size and specifications. If you become more advanced and start to make your own patterns, using math is inevitable. For even a simple pattern for a bag, I used a protractor (and fraction equations galore) to make it work. Without those math skills, you would be better off buying your clothes from the start.
  • Calculating a tip. If you want to properly recognize a waiter/valet, etc. math is the best way to figure out what is fair. A fair tip is anywhere between 15 to 20 %. Calculating simple percentages is easy to do in your head if you have passed high school math. But most bills are not simple numbers. Instead of an even number, you have decimals. Can you calculate a percentage with decimals without using a calculator? Yes, friends, without math class you will be a hopelessly poor tipper. Being able to understand percentage calculations can also help you when you are figuring out discounts (25% off the lowest marked price!) without asking a sales associate. Look at how smart you are.
  • Cooking. Cooking in my kitchen has not only improved my math skills, but made me a believer in paying attention in math class. One of the biggest things is calculating measurements. If you follow a recipe along perfectly, there should be no problem. But if you are doubling or halving a recipe, you better get your math cap on. What is 3/4 cup doubled? How about halved? Without your math skills, your recipe would turn into a culinary disaster. With those skills, you can tweak any recipe to fit your desired specifications.
  • ¬†Budgeting. Handling money requires a simple understanding of math, especially when calculating change. Managing your money, more specifically your budget, requires simple grasp to manage well. You will frequently use addition and subtraction, as well as percentages. These basic skills will help you be better with your money.

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Better Your Life Through Budgeting

The United States is in financial trouble. Citizens are bewildered how their elected officials just can’t seem to spend within a budget. And yet, this is a problem that a majority of Americans have. If we cannot even keep a personal budget, can we expect our country to stay on budget?

In order to better our lives and our country, we need to make an inward change before taking that change outward. The first step is going to be budgeting.

Budgeting is a word that is often accompanied with stress, anxiety and general distaste. Let’s face it: budgeting takes work. A lot of work. It also requires restraint and self control, which many people do not like to use. But while budgeting is a pain, it is the first step to financial health.

The first and most important step to budgeting is to find out what you spend every month. Keep a detailed record of what you spend, how much you spend and where you spend your money for a month or two. Make sure to keep mind of cash spending as well. You can use bank statements to help you manage your transactions, or you can set up an account at, a financial website that helps you track and manage your spending.

Are you surprised with how much you spend each month? It is amazing to see how much little purchases like treats at the gas station or eating out adds up.

Once you have tracked your spending, check how much money you bring in each month. Your spending should be less than the amount you bring in. If not, you are in big trouble. Either way, you need to start setting budgets.

To set budgets, make a list every everything you MUST spend money on every month. This would include house payment or rent, utilities, car payment, groceries, gas or transportation, personal supplies like toilet paper. Put a spending limit on each category. Next, add in budgets for discretionary items like entertainment, clothing, etc. The total amount of your budgets should NEVER exceed what you make.

So, that is it. Don’t spend more money than you make. Simple and easy, right? Spending within your means is a difficult task for many people. With the ease and access of credit cards and the need for instant gratification, it is easier said than done.

Many people have found success in the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system. It is something like this: for each budget you create an envelope. At the beginning of the month, you withdraw the cash from your bank and put in respective envelopes. As you begin to spend, you would take money out of the corresponding envelope. If you run out of money, you either don’t make that purchase or you have to take money from another envelope. The idea is simple: if you do not have the money, you cannot purchase it.

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