Financial Literacy - Growing your bottom line
smart spending
Trim your bottom, increase bottom line

Get to your bank without any sort of vehicle and without stopping. Remember, you are getting on track financially and physically, so these are not times for shortcuts. The extra mile will go a long way here. I'm well aware that the first mile is probably already reminding you why you canned that resolution in the first place. But both of your bottom lines will be smiling if you keep at it throughout the rest of the year.

Now, to make up for all the unfamiliar bipedal action you are doing, we'll combine your financial budget with this exercise. Each Sunday that you jog to the bank, pull out a predetermined amount of money. For example: $100. It's your reward for ditching the car and getting to the bank by yourself. One hundred bucks is all you will spend for a week too, as it's your built-in budget for lunches out and miscellaneous expenses. No need to save your receipts, write down your purchases or use your credit cards for seven days. You only have $100 to spend and it has to last you until your next Sunday stroll. That's budgeting made easy, with a side of exercise.

Come Saturday night, spend every penny you have left in your wallet and reward yourself for a successful week. If you have $40, treat yourself and a significant other to dinner out. If you have $2 left, pay for your profligate ways by making your own meal with whatever you find in the cupboards. After a month, you'll know exactly how much you spent: $400. No hard math necessary, just a little sweat.


In my book, "A Million Bucks by 30," I call this the Billfold Blowout -- a chance to reap some rewards while still sticking to a strict savings plan. (Yes, I did reach the million-dollar goal through a combination of living an extreme-cheapskate lifestyle and investing in everything from stocks to real estate. And honestly, I'm not pimping my book -- Bankrate's editor made me add this paragraph.)

But anyway, back to this $100 allowance idea: If you are really feeling good about yourself after a week, drop your budget to $80. Then $60. And then your pants size will be dropping right along with it. It may seem like you're going backward by cutting your allowance. But doing this will definitely save you from being bottoms-up in any financial market.

Step 2. Take weekly pecuniary bike tours

Grab a friend or four and some bikes and start really exploring your town to expand your financial bottom line in the name of asset acquisition. Identify a fiscal theme or goal for your bike tour and hit the streets.

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