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Times are tough and money is tight, so when every penny counts consider setting a simple budget to help your family get its finances in order. It may seem like a daunting task, but a basic budget is really quite easy to make, and it's one of the best tools you can use to keep control of your money. All you need is a list of your outgoing payments, an idea of how much you have coming in each month, and a plan for each of those dollars that hits your checking account.
First of all, determine exactly how much money you have coming in each month. Make sure to include all income including wages, child support, alimony, and any other money that you receive each month. Add all of these up, and this will let you know exactly how much you have to work with each month.
Next, make a list of everything that you spend money on. Include all household bills, money spent on gas and groceries, and any money spent on things such as fast food and clothing. Be honest, and record everything or your budget will not work. It might help to look at your bank statement to remind you of what payments are made regularly. Add these up to see how much money you are spending every month, and then subtract this figure from the income figure. Hopefully you will see a positive balance that indicates that you are living within your means!
If there is a negative balance, you need to either spend less or earn more. Determine if there are things that you can spend less on or eliminate altogether. You may have to eliminate spending on things that aren't absolute necessities, at least for a little while, until you can get to a point where you have more money coming in than going out. If you can't reduce your spending any further and are still short each month, you may have to consider taking on extra work to help make ends meet. Ultimately you should strive to place any excess money into a savings account so you can build up a safety net in case you lose your income.
Following these simple steps will help you get control of your finances, and help get you on the way to being financially fit!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|